Don’t drive taxis away

Whether you’re getting picked up after a night out or taking a trip across town, Uber is efficient and affordable. But I’m okay with paying a few extra dollars for a taxi if it means supporting someone’s primary income, even if it’s not always the cheapest option.

Uber, an amateur pay-for-a-ride service, found its way into Kingston this November. 

For non-drivers like myself who’ve run out of free rides from friends, it provides an alternative to a less-than-ideal bus system or the current taxi services in town.

Uber comes with many benefits: cheap fees, accessibility and a more personal feel than an average cab ride.

And while there are drawbacks — such as insurance concerns or security — as long as everything goes smoothly, Uber trips are almost always better for a customer than a more traditional taxi ride.

I’m not perfect, of course. I’ll still take the odd Uber ride out of convenience. After all, imagine all the irrational late-night food choices that extra $5 could buy. 

But, there’s one issue that keeps pushing me away from using Uber: I’m afraid that this service, and others like it, will eventually force many taxi drivers out of business.

I don’t intend on becoming a taxi driver, and I don’t know anyone who’s chosen that as a career path. However, it irks me that the future of this sector is being undermined almost single-handedly by a company founded less than a decade ago. 

After all, taxi drivers spend a small fortune to begin their driving career, while Uber has a low startup cost for drivers, and is often a secondary job. 

Taxis, in my experience, are a luxury version of public transit: despite being privately owned, they’re heavily regulated and have fixed costs associated with their journey. And I’m okay with that. 

However, while  there are already heavy external regulations on the taxi industry, there are almost none for Uber, which is regulated internally. This means that Uber drivers potentially don’t have the same job security as their taxi equivalents.

It doesn’t make sense that Uber drivers and taxi drivers would have to follow different rules, considering they provide a nearly identical service.

It’s hard not to empathize with taxi drivers who’ve ended up on the wrong side of a harsh capitalist reality: no matter the long-term cost, people tend to be driven (no pun intended) to the least expensive option available.

Adam is The Journal’s Sports Editor. He’s a third-year Politics major.

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