Why @Uber is a threat to Taxi Labor Groups

The San Francisco Taxi Labor Union is on strike. They are unhappy with Uber, RideShare and Lyft taking away their business. But it begs the question - if customers are leaving, are these new innovators to blame?

From my perspective, there is a really simple reason customers are not using regular cabs anymore. Allow me to take my experience and paint you a word picture.

The Process of Finding a Cab

Taxi

Try hailing a cab for 5-10 minutes while several empty ones ignore me and drive past.

Uber

Wait 3 minutes for a driver to arrive and call my phone, while I enjoy a beer at home. Follow their location via GPS.

Then, The Driver Arrives

Taxi

I get in and tell the driver a location. The driver doesn't respond and peels out, cutting off another car in the process. (Best case scenario: they start driving safely. Unfortunately, this has not been my experience.)

Uber

I get a text saying my Uber has arrived. I get downstairs and the driver is waiting outside of the car. He/She greets me, opens the door and offers cold water, snacks and gum. Once inside, driver asks how my day is going and then requests a destination.

Then, The Driver Arrives 2

Taxi

I get in and tell driver a location. Driver says 'I dont know where that is'. There is an awkward silence while waiting for the driver to do his job: ask a question to get a better idea of my destination. I end up loading Google Maps on my phone for turn-by-turn directions, for fear that we will sit in this awkward situation for the rest of my life.

Uber

See above. After giving the driver an address, he/she says 'Sorry, I'm not familiar with the address. Do you mind if I put it in my GPS so I can make sure to get you there on time?'

En Route

Taxi

The commute continues while the driver is talking on the phone, driving like a maniac and cutting off other drivers, bicyclists, etc.

Uber

The driver is obeying traffic laws, not talking on the phone and is paying attention to the road. Some even maintain a nice conversation with you, if that's something you enjoy. (The power of rating systems should not be underestimated)

Arrival

Taxi

Seeing the cost of the ride on the meter, I pull out my debit card to start the payment process. 'Sorry, no cards.', another awkward silence since they must accept cards. ' Ok, fine, hold on.' The driver then rumages through his/her glove compartment before claiming that the credit card machine is broken. Show continues as he/she makes more of a fuss about accepting a debit card, and then a Square Card Reader appears. After transaction is complete, there is silence and I exit the vehicle. With just enough time to shut the door, the driver peels away again.

Uber

'Alright sir, here we are. Please allow me to get your door.' - Driver exits, opens the door for me, and says 'Thank you very much Manik, have a great day.' Note: He/she often will address me by name throughout the ride. Very simple action with a big impact. I exit the vehicle at my destination, in one piece, without being frustrated by my commute. I say thanks and goodbye, knowing that my fare & the driver's tip is paid and I can review the entire trip later when my e-mail receipt arrives. Effortless.

This comparison is not an exaggeration, it is simply my experience over several years — I acknowledge that your experience may differ. My experiences were largely from the following cities: New York, Newark, Chicago and San Francisco.