3 reasons to ditch Uber (AND Lyft) and take a yellow cab instead

taxi

In 2017, progressive-minded people learned that if they wish to support transportation businesses that align with their values, they should hail a ride using Lyft instead of Uber.

Why? Well, there’s the gross stuffs, the privacy stuff, and the illegal stuffs.

Eek. Bad stuff.

But if a progressive were to choose a form of transportation that aligns with their values, they wouldn’t use Uber OR Lyft. They’d take a freaking yellow cab.

Here’s why:

1. Cost

Let’s start with the best one. If you fell in love with Uber’s low prices, I urge you to check your favorite Silicon Valley-backed ride-hailing app against the fare estimate in Curb, the app for yellow cabs in many cities. In my (admittedly limited) experience, the fares given in Curb are significantly lower than Uber/Lyft, especially when surge pricing is in effect.

2. Sustainability

When Uber/Lyft are cheaper, it’s because your ride is effectively being subsidized by venture-capital firms. Here’s an article about this {bloomberg} and some tweets:

3. Labor

If progressives truly support fair labor laws, unionization, and a living wage, they shouldn’t support Uber/Lyft, both of which are in the business of undermining those very laws and institutions.

Conclusion

I’m not saying everything is perfect about yellow cabs. There’s the medallion thing and the once-frequent refusal of many drivers to accept credit cards (which is now irrelevant thanks to Curb). But you’re kidding yourself if you think Uber/Lyft are making the world a better place or making the transportation market more efficient.

Image courtesy Flicker user Lensicle, but I added some black lines to it. Used under Creative Commons. 

Startups really are changing the world… in China at least

This is such a cool story {npr}:

When Cici Xu isn’t working as an accountant, she’s driving around Shanghai picking up passengers for People’s Uber, the American company’s nonprofit ride-sharing service that operates in nine mainland Chinese cities.

Xu, 40, makes about $1,300 a month as a driver, but says she doesn’t really do it for the money.

“I hope to meet different people,” she says, explaining her new hobby at a downtown café recently. She wants to “make life more colorful and get to know a different Shanghai. I’ve now discovered, I’m addicted to this work.”

Friday Link List

1. Now That’s Not Playing Very Nice, Uber {The Verge}

This is such a good illustration of the disconnect between the “we’re changing the world through algorithms and better business models” rhetoric of Silicon Valley and the reality.

Lofty means-nothing stuff like this:
Uber Screenshot

Most of these companies are run by people who think no one will notice the contradiction. And that it’s OK to play a little dirty to get more market share.

Uber is arming teams of independent contractors with burner phones and credit cards as part of its sophisticated effort to undermine Lyft and other competitors. Interviews with current and former contractors, along with internal documents obtained by The Verge, outline the company’s evolving methods. Using contractors it calls “brand ambassadors,” Uber requests rides from Lyft and other competitors, recruits their drivers, and takes multiple precautions to avoid detection. The effort, which Uber appears to be rolling out nationally, has already resulted in thousands of canceled Lyft rides and made it more difficult for its rival to gain a foothold in new markets. Uber calls the program “SLOG,” and it’s a previously unreported aspect of the company’s ruthless efforts to undermine its competitors.

 2. Mining Your Voice for Hidden Feelings & Company Products {new tech city/wnyc}

…Emodi’s company, called Beyond Verbal, is applying 20 years of “emotion analytics” to help us understand ourselves better. These products claim to be able to determine true emotions just from listening to you speak for 20 seconds. It could also determine if a salesperson is using the “perfect sales intonation” or if a given customer calling up is ‘exasperated and furious’ or ‘exasperated and ready to listen’.

[photo credit: uber homepage on 8.28. used without permission. if that’s not OK sorry let me know.]