Author Topic: The disruption of disruptive technology (Uber)  (Read 7126 times)

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Offline Rick Law

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The disruption of disruptive technology (Uber)
« on: May 30, 2018, 02:38:20 am »
We all hear of "disruptive technology" but the darker side of a disruptive technology is can be rather sad.  RIP and condolences to the families.

Another Taxi Driver in Debt Takes His Life. That’s 5 in 5 Months.

New York Times, May 27, 2018; By Nikita Stewart and Luis Ferré-Sadurní
...
police found the man’s parked taxicab, the biggest investment of his life. The man, Yu Mein Chow, had taken out a loan seven years ago to buy a $700,000 medallion that gave him the right to operate a cab.
...
His body was found floating in the East River about nine miles south, near the Brooklyn Bridge, on Wednesday. Friends and family members believe Mr. Chow jumped to his death, adding to a string of apparent suicides of traditional taxi and livery drivers in the city.
...
New York City’s cab industry, dependent on the market value of the once-coveted taxi medallion, has been upended by the proliferation of Uber and other ride-sharing services. Drivers have been demanding changes at City Hall to protect their livelihood, but at least five cabbies have buckled under the strain of debt since December as others describe working 12- and 14-hour shifts to make up for the lost income. One driver shot himself in February outside City Hall after leaving a message on Facebook blaming the industry’s demise on politicians. ...
...
The medallion system was created to limit the number of cabdrivers, but ride-sharing apps have rendered it useless, said Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York City Taxi Workers Alliance. Last year, data showed that more people used Uber than yellow cabs in the city. Once sold for more than $1 million, taxi medallions are now selling for as little as $175,000, according to data collected by the Taxi and Limousine Commission.
...


[RL - Bold added to quotes above]

Link to the article:
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/27/nyregion/taxi-driver-suicide-nyc.html
« Last Edit: May 30, 2018, 02:40:21 am by Rick Law »
 

Offline ataradov

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Re: The disruption of disruptive technology (Uber)
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2018, 03:29:13 am »
Good. Every time I took a taxi in San Jose, CA area I've got real shitty experience. One time a driver barely spoke English and I had to tell him what roads to take to get downtown from the airport, not some remote obscure place. On the other hand I have never had anything but great experiences with Uber.

I would not mind using taxis if they actually organized and created their own app that works everywhere. The times of making a call and waiting for an hour are over. But instead they just ruthlessly compete with each other and don't want to cooperate for a second for long term benefit.


Obviously NY is a bit different in that respect, but still.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2018, 03:31:33 am by ataradov »
Alex
 
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Offline james_s

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Re: The disruption of disruptive technology (Uber)
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2018, 04:09:46 am »
The real problem I see here is the need for a $700,000 medallion in order to operate a taxi cab. That just screams corruption and reeks of mob protectionism. Such a system of artificially limiting the number of cabs is ludicrous, I think it would be completely reasonable to require some sort of training course with a special license but it should be a few hundred bucks a year, not $700k.

This is the sort of thing that makes me root for Uber and others, the existing system deserves to be disrupted until it collapses.
 
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Offline rdl

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Re: The disruption of disruptive technology (Uber)
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2018, 05:40:13 am »
On the other hand these uber drivers are not "ride sharing". Few people drive in NYC. They are just doing the same thing as the taxi drivers but without licensing, training or regulation.
 
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Offline ataradov

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Re: The disruption of disruptive technology (Uber)
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2018, 05:42:06 am »
They are just doing the same thing as the taxi drivers but without licensing, training or regulation.
I submit that Uber does a better job at "regulating" than the officials. You get your average rating below 4 stars and you are out. Taxi drivers don't give a shit about their rating.
Alex
 
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Online metrologist

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Re: The disruption of disruptive technology (Uber)
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2018, 11:03:50 am »
your gov system is just as corrupt and bad, so it should be forced to collapse, and take you down with it?
 

Offline CM800

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Re: The disruption of disruptive technology (Uber)
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2018, 11:58:36 am »
The real problem I see here is the need for a $700,000 medallion in order to operate a taxi cab. That just screams corruption and reeks of mob protectionism. Such a system of artificially limiting the number of cabs is ludicrous, I think it would be completely reasonable to require some sort of training course with a special license but it should be a few hundred bucks a year, not $700k.

This is the sort of thing that makes me root for Uber and others, the existing system deserves to be disrupted until it collapses.

Thats not the half of it in NYC:

 

Online langwadt

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Re: The disruption of disruptive technology (Uber)
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2018, 01:20:03 pm »
The real problem I see here is the need for a $700,000 medallion in order to operate a taxi cab. That just screams corruption and reeks of mob protectionism. Such a system of artificially limiting the number of cabs is ludicrous, I think it would be completely reasonable to require some sort of training course with a special license but it should be a few hundred bucks a year, not $700k.

This is the sort of thing that makes me root for Uber and others, the existing system deserves to be disrupted until it collapses.

the point of limiting the number of taxis is to make sure that they can make living, in exchange for the "monopoly" they are required to keep cars on the street at all times
and do rides that might not be profitable




 

Online EEVblog

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Re: The disruption of disruptive technology (Uber)
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2018, 01:23:37 pm »
The real problem I see here is the need for a $700,000 medallion in order to operate a taxi cab. That just screams corruption and reeks of mob protectionism. Such a system of artificially limiting the number of cabs is ludicrous, I think it would be completely reasonable to require some sort of training course with a special license but it should be a few hundred bucks a year, not $700k.
This is the sort of thing that makes me root for Uber and others, the existing system deserves to be disrupted until it collapses.

Yes, that existing system was ridiculous. Anyone who took out that sort of debt to start a business is taking a huge risk. They should not be entitled to be protected or guarantees a return on that investment, or guaranteed no competition can come along.

Same thing happening with AirBnB. Not only in the hotel market, but also in the "experiences" market. I'm currently in a bit of a debate with an adventure sport company owner that appears to be a bit upset that someone offering the same adventure trip on AirBnB for 1/3 the price he charges. The AirBnB dude doesn't have a national parks license, or presumably insurance, and doesn't appear to be operating a business. Indeed, it's almost as if he's running it as a hobby. And doing such a thing as a hobby without a license or insurance appears to be perfectly legal. Heck, even I do it, I advertise my adventure trips and take out beginners, potentially "robbing"  the adventure company of that business.
I think it's just new competition enabled by technology that they are going to have to deal with.
 

Offline orion242

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Re: The disruption of disruptive technology (Uber)
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2018, 01:54:12 pm »
Its going to cause more issues than a few taxi drivers.

Think about how many truck drivers are currently on the road.  What the happens when they all find themselves on the streets.

Just another technology that disrupts things in a massive way and gets to externalize a lot of the associated costs on to the tax payers.
 

Offline Cerebus

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Re: The disruption of disruptive technology (Uber)
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2018, 02:26:28 pm »
The real problem I see here is the need for a $700,000 medallion in order to operate a taxi cab. That just screams corruption and reeks of mob protectionism. Such a system of artificially limiting the number of cabs is ludicrous, I think it would be completely reasonable to require some sort of training course with a special license but it should be a few hundred bucks a year, not $700k.

This is the sort of thing that makes me root for Uber and others, the existing system deserves to be disrupted until it collapses.

the point of limiting the number of taxis is to make sure that they can make living, in exchange for the "monopoly" they are required to keep cars on the street at all times
and do rides that might not be profitable

Compare and contrast with London.

All taxi type drivers and services are licenced and regulated - so that's both Licenced Taxi Drivers (black cabs) and Private Hire Drivers (classic mini-cabs, Uber at al). There is currently no cap on the number of licences and there has never been. A cap is currently being considered. In financial year 2017/18 there were 23,826 Licenced Taxi Drivers and 113,645 licenced Private Hire Drivers.

The licencing authority is required by law to spend all fees on running the service (i.e. it's not a stealth tax).  The only significant bar to entry, aside from a clean criminal records check, driving test, medical and an adequate licensable vehicle, is for Licenced Taxi Drivers who have to pass the 'Knowledge' [of London] test before they can get a licence. Licencing fees are reasonable, if you meet all the requirements your first Black cab license will cost a total of around £1000 including tests, medical examination, criminal record checks etc. etc. For a Private Hire driver it's closer to £700.

Licenced Cab Drivers can ply for hire on the streets (i.e. you can hail a Licenced Taxi) whereas Private Hire Vehicles must be pre-booked, even if it's as immediate as using an app. Black cab hire fees (what you the customer pays) are fixed by regulation and have traditionally been quite expensive. Private Hire fees are a matter for the individual firm to set and are not regulated.

Black cab drivers must by law take any fare, no matter how long, short or inconvenient, as long as the journey is 12 miles or less (or 20 miles if the destination is Heathrow Airport) and terminates within the "Metropolitan Police District or the City of London". Private Hire firms can pick and choose what journeys to accept, but in practice don't generally refuse any. Black cab drivers set their own hours and there is no obligation to work particular times or a minimum number of hours, ditto licensed Private Hire drivers.

The Licenced Cab drivers have never liked Private Hire operators, and have always done their best to wrangle for a monopoly, which they once had. Getting a black cab licence was hard, because the 'Knowledge' is hard and takes years to study for. As well as the actual streets, black cab drivers are expected to know where hotels, restaurants, museums and the like are as well. A cab licence was a traditional way for a working class lad (and the very occasional lass) to get a relatively high paying job. Even competing with modern GPS navigation a black cab will still probably get you there faster because black cab drivers have an intimate working knowledge of London's streets, all of them. Black cabs deserve a premium for this, but the days of being able to charge much, much more than the Private Hire operators and still get plenty of customers have passed now that anybody can get you accurately to your destination.
Anybody got a syringe I can use to squeeze the magic smoke back into this?
 
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Offline Kjelt

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Re: The disruption of disruptive technology (Uber)
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2018, 02:36:51 pm »
What I read over the last year is that lots of Uber drivers are also underpaid by UberScrooge, too little to earn a decent living on an 8-10 hour shift.
While Uber is filling its company pockets with the money that is actually earned by their "slave"drivers in the cars.
Perhaps the old system was not good, but this seems not much better.
 

Offline helius

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Re: The disruption of disruptive technology (Uber)
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2018, 03:31:29 pm »
What I read over the last year is that lots of Uber drivers are also underpaid by UberScrooge, too little to earn a decent living on an 8-10 hour shift.
While Uber is filling its company pockets with the money that is actually earned by their "slave"drivers in the cars.
Perhaps the old system was not good, but this seems not much better.
"Uber has just revealed its fourth-quarter financial results, which show that the ride-hailing company's loss jumped 61 percent in 2017. The company lost $4.5 billion last year, up from $2.8 billion in 2016, according to figures first reported by The Information and confirmed by CNBC on Tuesday."
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/13/ubers-loss-jumped-61-percent-to-4-point-5-billion-in-2017.html

Companies like Uber are transferring billions of dollars from their investors into the pockets of their users.
 

Offline james_s

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Re: The disruption of disruptive technology (Uber)
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2018, 07:14:02 pm »
your gov system is just as corrupt and bad, so it should be forced to collapse, and take you down with it?

If there was a viable alternative then sure, but comparing a business that has multiple alternatives to the entire governing body of a nation is hyperbole to say the least.

There is NO reason a taxi medallion should cost such an obscene amount of money. The system is corrupt and broken, and better alternatives exist. The existing taxi system is outdated and the monopoly gives them no incentive to improve. The whole premise is something I find rather un-American. I've taken only a few cab rides in my life and was not the least bit impressed. The cars were dirty, the drivers rude, and not particularly good drivers. I've used Uber a couple of times and the contrast was like night and day. Clean cars, friendly and courteous drivers, absolutely painless process of scheduling a ride and paying for it, with that option available I would never even consider a traditional cab.
 

Offline Rick Law

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Re: The disruption of disruptive technology (Uber)
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2018, 07:55:56 pm »
The real problem I see here is the need for a $700,000 medallion in order to operate a taxi cab. That just screams corruption and reeks of mob protectionism. Such a system of artificially limiting the number of cabs is ludicrous, I think it would be completely reasonable to require some sort of training course with a special license but it should be a few hundred bucks a year, not $700k.
This is the sort of thing that makes me root for Uber and others, the existing system deserves to be disrupted until it collapses.

Yes, that existing system was ridiculous. Anyone who took out that sort of debt to start a business is taking a huge risk. They should not be entitled to be protected or guarantees a return on that investment, or guaranteed no competition can come along.

Same thing happening with AirBnB. Not only in the hotel market, but also in the "experiences" market. I'm currently in a bit of a debate with an adventure sport company owner that appears to be a bit upset that someone offering the same adventure trip on AirBnB for 1/3 the price he charges. The AirBnB dude doesn't have a national parks license, or presumably insurance, and doesn't appear to be operating a business. Indeed, it's almost as if he's running it as a hobby. And doing such a thing as a hobby without a license or insurance appears to be perfectly legal. Heck, even I do it, I advertise my adventure trips and take out beginners, potentially "robbing"  the adventure company of that business.
I think it's just new competition enabled by technology that they are going to have to deal with.

Incidentally, on-going in the last couple of weeks, NYC news have news item/segment about some AirBnB tax (as they called it).  The "traditional" side is discussing with city-hall to take action to give them some protection.

I agree with your point that the business owner is solely responsible for the risk.

Similar to choosing a career, at times, it is difficult to see that far ahead.  According to data reported by WSJ*,  only 9% of the job lasts 20 years or more.  So most of us will face some significant change in our career lifetime.   Every industry undergoing a disruptive change is going to cause a big spike.  That means a lot of broken life.  As former Intel CEO Andy Grove titled one of his book: "Only the Paranoid Survive"

* Number cited from Wall Street Journal article "Seven Careers in a Lifetime? Think Twice, Researchers Say" By Carl Bialik back in 2010.  Based on context, I interpret their numbers are for USA and not international.

 

Offline james_s

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Re: The disruption of disruptive technology (Uber)
« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2018, 08:18:37 pm »
If the protectionists had their way, technology would never advance. We'd still be riding around in horsedrawn carriages so the blacksmiths and carriage makers could earn a wage. We'd be using steam locomotives to keep the firemen employed. We'd be using candles for illumination to protect the candle makers, etc. That's not to say there shouldn't be *some* protection to give people some time to adjust, but adjusting to changing realities is just a part of life. The taxi companies have enjoyed their cozy little monopolies for far too long and I welcome a change.
 
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Offline Gyro

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Re: The disruption of disruptive technology (Uber)
« Reply #16 on: May 30, 2018, 08:21:51 pm »
The real problem I see here is the need for a $700,000 medallion in order to operate a taxi cab. That just screams corruption and reeks of mob protectionism. Such a system of artificially limiting the number of cabs is ludicrous, I think it would be completely reasonable to require some sort of training course with a special license but it should be a few hundred bucks a year, not $700k.

This is the sort of thing that makes me root for Uber and others, the existing system deserves to be disrupted until it collapses.

the point of limiting the number of taxis is to make sure that they can make living, in exchange for the "monopoly" they are required to keep cars on the street at all times
and do rides that might not be profitable

Compare and contrast with London.

All taxi type drivers and services are licenced and regulated - so that's both Licenced Taxi Drivers (black cabs) and Private Hire Drivers (classic mini-cabs, Uber at al). There is currently no cap on the number of licences and there has never been. A cap is currently being considered. In financial year 2017/18 there were 23,826 Licenced Taxi Drivers and 113,645 licenced Private Hire Drivers.

The licencing authority is required by law to spend all fees on running the service (i.e. it's not a stealth tax).  The only significant bar to entry, aside from a clean criminal records check, driving test, medical and an adequate licensable vehicle, is for Licenced Taxi Drivers who have to pass the 'Knowledge' [of London] test before they can get a licence. Licencing fees are reasonable, if you meet all the requirements your first Black cab license will cost a total of around £1000 including tests, medical examination, criminal record checks etc. etc. For a Private Hire driver it's closer to £700.

Licenced Cab Drivers can ply for hire on the streets (i.e. you can hail a Licenced Taxi) whereas Private Hire Vehicles must be pre-booked, even if it's as immediate as using an app. Black cab hire fees (what you the customer pays) are fixed by regulation and have traditionally been quite expensive. Private Hire fees are a matter for the individual firm to set and are not regulated.

Black cab drivers must by law take any fare, no matter how long, short or inconvenient, as long as the journey is 12 miles or less (or 20 miles if the destination is Heathrow Airport) and terminates within the "Metropolitan Police District or the City of London". Private Hire firms can pick and choose what journeys to accept, but in practice don't generally refuse any. Black cab drivers set their own hours and there is no obligation to work particular times or a minimum number of hours, ditto licensed Private Hire drivers.

The Licenced Cab drivers have never liked Private Hire operators, and have always done their best to wrangle for a monopoly, which they once had. Getting a black cab licence was hard, because the 'Knowledge' is hard and takes years to study for. As well as the actual streets, black cab drivers are expected to know where hotels, restaurants, museums and the like are as well. A cab licence was a traditional way for a working class lad (and the very occasional lass) to get a relatively high paying job. Even competing with modern GPS navigation a black cab will still probably get you there faster because black cab drivers have an intimate working knowledge of London's streets, all of them. Black cabs deserve a premium for this, but the days of being able to charge much, much more than the Private Hire operators and still get plenty of customers have passed now that anybody can get you accurately to your destination.

Attaining 'The Knowledge' is a truly remarkable process, not only map study but also driving around London on a moped with a clipboard strapped to the front for several years or until they can pass the strict test. I saw a documentary where MRI comparisons showed that the average Black Cab driver actually develops an enlarged Hippocampus compared to the general population due to the amount of information they have to store away. They know every little side street and muse and can normally find the fastest route between two points at any given time of day. There's only so far a satnav will get you.

When my eldest son was a baby, he had problems, involving frequent visits and stays in Great Ormond St hospital. We would get a cab from Paddington Station to the hospital. More often that not, the cabbie would refuse to accept the fare. It used to go into the collecting box inside the hospital entrance instead. You wouldn't get that sort of heart and service like that from Uber!

Another couple of useless facts. A black cab isn't allowed on the road with any kind of bodywork damage - they will always back off (but let you know about it!) in a potential collision conflict situational. The have a turning circle of only 8m so that they can do a U turn on a typical London street (and also get around the tight roundabout inside the entrance of the Savoy Hotel!). There are very strict rules about taking the cab off the road and fully sterilizing it if a passenger happens to die in one!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hackney_carriage
Chris

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Offline blueskull

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Re: The disruption of disruptive technology (Uber)
« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2018, 08:27:41 pm »
So what? Natural selection. Mother nature is harsh, and without humanity, in a wild world, the ones among the strongest survive.
 

Online metrologist

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Re: The disruption of disruptive technology (Uber)
« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2018, 08:27:49 pm »
The system is corrupt and broken, and better alternatives exist.

I was just keeping up with the tone.

The system you are talking about though was created by and is part of the governments, and permission was only granted and guaranteed protection put in place in exchange for a life's wages. The workers had no choice, there were no better alternatives. They subscribed to the program and then the governments now abandon an entire workforce. All the corruption and dysfunction here is the government, not the taxi industry - they are merely an expected product of that.

Uber is a taxi company just the same and I believe they are in violation, or if that loophole should stick then every driver is operating in violation.

Don't you think the value of all those medallions will be paid by you in one way or another?
 

Offline Kjelt

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Re: The disruption of disruptive technology (Uber)
« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2018, 09:29:38 pm »
Perhaps they should have put a maximum price on the medaillions  :-//

Anyway if the above financial statement is correct and I think it is then Uber is throwing investors money in a business pit harming the standard drivers that can no longer compete.
It is like Apple with all their billions will sell their iPhones as of tomorrow for $50 (so $100 below cost) to dominate the market and ruin all other phone manufacturers. Then after a few years when the competition is gone they sell again for higher prices.
Something is fishy about this whole Uber business case and in some european cities even countries the app is already banned because there was too much unrest.
 

Online Marco

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Re: The disruption of disruptive technology (Uber)
« Reply #20 on: May 30, 2018, 10:14:38 pm »
We all hear of "disruptive technology" but the darker side of a disruptive technology
I don't consider this disruptive technology, it's breach of contract by government ... uber is a taxi service.
 
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Offline james_s

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Re: The disruption of disruptive technology (Uber)
« Reply #21 on: May 30, 2018, 10:16:23 pm »
The medallions should have gone in the bin years ago, they're as quaint as the previously mentioned horsedrawn carriages, a relic of another era that has no place in the modern world. Prices never should have been bid up to the range they are now, it's absurd, and everyone should know things can change and they cannot always rely on extorting the customer for lack of an alternative. The system is obsolete, it sucks for those currently trying to make a living doing that but what makes them special compared to all the other career paths that have vanished as technology and society marches on? If a business can't survive without heavy handed protectionism that excludes all forms of competition then it deserves to die off. There are very good reasons that most monopolies are illegal. After seeing the way cabbies are moaning and bitching up a storm about the loss of their unfair monopoly I would walk before I would ever consider taking a traditional taxi.
 

Online Marco

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Re: The disruption of disruptive technology (Uber)
« Reply #22 on: May 30, 2018, 10:25:46 pm »
Perhaps they should have put a maximum price on the medaillions  :-//
They should have sold/bought medaillons to keep the price stable at some point.
 

Offline CatalinaWOW

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Re: The disruption of disruptive technology (Uber)
« Reply #23 on: May 30, 2018, 10:40:25 pm »
This is a case almost like agriculture early in the last century.  The markets fluctuate over time scales that are not commensurate with investment payoffs.

Uber the company is losing money.  I don't see how Uber drivers can make money on the business model.  Buying a new car every three years will offering the lowest prices on the market doesn't appear to add up.  I know a couple of Uber drivers and they are doing okay on current expenses, but not able to put away anything for replacement of their vehicle.

Obviously the New York medallion scheme was working in some sense before price competition set in. 

Over time ride rates will have to raise to cover actual costs of the business (plus whatever profit keeps the money from going elsewhere).  This will mean higher costs for users.  Those costs might be high enough for traditional taxis to compete (if they still exist).

In the US (and I believe in most of the Western world) governments stepped in to stabilize agriculture prices.  That has had other, not always positive, consequences here but it did make agriculture a viable business over the last century without the extreme boom/bust/crop failure/weather hit problems that punished it previously.
 

Offline ataradov

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Re: The disruption of disruptive technology (Uber)
« Reply #24 on: May 30, 2018, 10:47:37 pm »
The taxis are actually not that much more expensive here. The problem is stupid stuff they do, like $15 minimum charge if you go to or from the airport. What difference does it make where I go?

And I personally would not care if Uber increased the price. I go for Uber because of convenience.  I want to pull up the app and tap the screen a few times instead of trying to explain where I want to go to someone in Indian  call center, or use a site with flash and ads, or some other stuff like that.

I also don't trust taxi drivers much with my credit card. The level of sketchiness there is astronomical.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2018, 10:49:30 pm by ataradov »
Alex
 
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