Is Uber the way?

One Man's Opinion
By Doug Collins
March 12, 2017 - 8:00am

I must say that the idea of ride sharing is intriguing, but I honestly don’t think Uber is for me.

I understand the concept, but I’m not sure I’m keen on hopping into someone else’s car when I don’t know the driver, or how reliable he or she is. The idea of Uber is that you have an app on your phone, and when you’re ready to go somewhere, you get on the app and hail a ride. Someone then pulls up and away you go. And hopefully for less than it costs you for a taxi. It sounds good, and it may work out fine, but I think I will be just as happy to take a good old fashioned cab.

Uber has some plusses, but it has some minuses too. It really depends what regulations the government puts in place when the system comes in. In some places, Uber has “dynamic pricing” where the price fluctuates according to demand. The higher the demand, the higher the cost. You come out of a concert and everyone wants a ride. So in order to get more rides to the spot, prices go up. More drivers will show up for a bigger payday, but you pay more. Whereas with a cab, you get the fixed rate. You may have to wait longer for the cab, but you pay the fixed fare. We really don’t know what the B.C. government is planning when it says Uber could be active here by the end of the year. And the government is trying to placate the taxi companies by changing many of their regulations too. They are going to put a bunch of money into an app system that you can use to hail a cab, just as you do Uber. They are going to reduce rules on which areas cabs can operate in. Does that mean, as Kamloops Yellow Cab owner Abdul Rasheed says, cabs from smaller areas will move into bigger centers to get more money, reducing service in the smaller areas? That’s quite possible, but it will be some time before we know for sure.

One thing for sure, it’s not yet a fait accompli. There are still many hoops to go through before Uber is a fact in B.C. Vancouver taxi owners are planning to fight the concept, and there are security concerns too. Will the drivers go through a background check, as they do in other jurisdictions and will that check be a strong one? The Uber drivers use their own vehicles in many areas, so will they be subject to safety checks and how well will they be insured? Those regulations are already in place for cabbies.

I’m not against the service, but the proper regulations need to be in place before I’m a wholehearted supporter. At this stage, it doesn’t seem to be the type of service I’m interested in. I’ll need a lot more convincing before I dig out my Uber app and take a ride with Mr. Uber instead of Mr. Cabbie.