Taxi, Limo Trade Group Hates Innovative Upstarts, Labels Them 'Rogue Applications'

from the can't-beat-'em-in-the-market,-so... dept

There's nothing like a bit of disruptive innovation to make the legacy players start busting out the old moral panics. We've written a few times about the new generation of ride-for-hire and ride-share services, which are really disrupting the old taxi and limo business -- leading to all sorts of highly questionable lawsuits and attempts at regulating these new players into oblivion. In almost every case, it seems quite clear that these attacks are not because the service is bad for consumers... but because it's disrupting traditional players who haven't innovated. So, it came as little surprise this week to receive an email from the "Taxi, Limousine & Paratransit Association" excitedly telling me all about a new paper they've issued with a giant "warning" about what they call "rogue apps." Isn't that great? Rather than innovative and disruptive services that consumers absolutely love, they just rebrand them as "rogue" apps and they can make them seem sssssssssssssscary. The paper grades various new services, giving them a "red light," "yellow light" or "green light."

Not surprisingly, the more well known apps -- Uber, SideCar, Lyft and Tickengo -- all have received the coveted "red light." While according to the TLPA this means they're dangerous "rogue apps," to me it suggests that they're all doing something right. They're providing services that people want that are more convenient or better priced than the old guard, which is why the old guard has to attack them.

The key point they make is that these are all "unregulated" taxi services, which allows them to go into full out moral panic mode about how, without regulations, these services will likely take advantage of consumers. The paper talks about threats of "criminal" drivers and the potential for meter rigging. Of course, as we've seen in other industries, this seems like a clear case of businesses using regulations to keep out innovation and competitors, rather than for a legitimate purpose. Yes, many of those regulations were put in place for a good reason originally, yet many of those reasons really don't apply to these new services.

In the past, you needed regulations to protect you from drivers taking extra long paths to where you wanted to go, driving poorly or charging too much -- because drivers could do that and there was little recourse. But the thing about these new services, which rely heavily on online reputation systems, is that these reputation systems make the need for such regulations much less necessary. The services, like Uber, set the price and poor drivers get booted from the system based on user reviews. And, since most people who have a mobile phone these days to use one of these apps will also have GPS on those phones, people can self-monitor if the driver is taking a reasonable route. Basically, the original safety reasons (which, again, may have made sense at the time) for many of those regulations simply may not really apply to these new services. But rather than deal with that, the legacy players are doing what legacy players do: using those regulations to try to stomp out innovation and stifle competition.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    BentFranklin (profile), Mar 28th, 2013 @ 1:12pm

    "We're lying cheating bastards but we got caught and we had to stop, so don't trust anyone but us."

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2013 @ 1:16pm

    It's hilarious how they're implicitly saying that licensed cabs won't try to rip you off the second they think they can get away with it. Here's a fun game if you live in an urban center: wear a fanny pack and/or a camera around your neck then try to hail a cab. Go somewhere familiar and see if the charges seem legitimate to you. If they think you're an out of towner, you're almost never going to get a fair rate.

     

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  3.  
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    kenichi tanaka, Mar 28th, 2013 @ 1:26pm

    Somebody needs to inform the "Taxi, Limousine & Paratransit Association" that holding a monopoly in any market is a violation of Federal law.

     

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  4.  
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    Machin Shin (profile), Mar 28th, 2013 @ 1:34pm

    Re:

    Ahh, yes, it is against the law, unless of course it is the government that is handing you a monopoly on a silver platter.

    You ever look around at most utilities? In a lot of places, such as my house, there is only one ISP. There are tons of "legal" monopolies.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2013 @ 2:10pm

    Let's see, "Uber", "SideCar", "Lyft", "Tickengo". Got it. Thanks for the list of companies who do your job better than you do, TLPA! I'll be sure to keep them in mind, and not you.

     

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  6.  
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    Dave Sutton (profile), Mar 28th, 2013 @ 2:35pm

    Recently, an Uber driver was accused of raping a teenaged girl. This caused some shock in the tech community. How could such a thing happen involving Uber? What about Uber's excellent reputation?

    Good Lord. Is anybody really that naive?

    Uber drivers are contractors. If one of them is about to harm a passenger, they won't first stop to consider whether they might harm Uber's reputation. Is this writer telling us they will? Because that's naive.

    Does this writer believe that an Uber driver will avoid committing an assault against a passenger because Uber possesses the driver's identity? Or, because the Uber driver might lose his job? This is naive, too.

    The reason the taxi business is so heavily regulated is because it is a dangerous business. Drivers get robbed. Passengers get assaulted. This happens every single week in America.

    But the moment an Uber passenger downloads the app she has just forfeited any right to hold Uber responsible if something bad happens on her ride.

    So, if something bad happens to an Uber customer, what's going to give her some justice, some consolation? The fact that her driver had an excellent reputation?

     

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  7.  
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    kenichi tanaka, Mar 28th, 2013 @ 2:36pm

    Actually, not even government can grant you a monopoly because it's still a violation of Federal law. Competition benefits the entire economy for that industry. Apparently, this country is literally going to shit because Washington has failed this country and its people.

    The Patriot Acrt, Warrantless Wiretapping, Indefinite Detentions, Bloomberg's Idea of a Drone Occupied New York, Washington approving drones for use in this country, wealthy corporations bleeding Americans dry and those election representatives we sent to Washington only continue to make living in this country even worse than before.

    I think what started with the "Occupy" movement is going to evolve into a new civil war because it's the people in power who don't want to give that power up.

    This whole issue in regards to these new start-ups is just one tip of the iceberg.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2013 @ 2:38pm

    the bigger problem is that, not only do the old guard attack the innovators and the new services, they get the backing, by whatever means necessary (usually a fat, brown envelope full of cash!) of the councilors and politicians to shut these services down. at the same time, those councilors and politicians moan that there is no new services or industries starting up, so as to make it look like they care, when in actual fact, they dont give a shit!!

     

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  9.  
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    cpt kangarooski, Mar 28th, 2013 @ 2:43pm

    Re:

    Uber drivers are contractors. If one of them is about to harm a passenger, they won't first stop to consider whether they might harm Uber's reputation.

    Isn't that the case for most cab drivers in markets with a highly limited number of medallions? The owner has the medallion and the cab, and rents the use of it to drivers, 24 hours a day, for a fairly steep price, whether the drivers do well or not.

    But the moment an Uber passenger downloads the app she has just forfeited any right to hold Uber responsible if something bad happens on her ride.

    You make a good point, and I agree with you: we should prohibit (or at least strictly regulate) disclaimers of liability, binding arbitration clauses, and other such abusive terms in adhesive contracts.

     

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  10.  
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    Chosen Reject (profile), Mar 28th, 2013 @ 3:03pm

    Re: Re:

    I disagree. I don't see why Uber should be liable for a driver roughing up a passenger or vice versa. If a driver does something bad to a passenger, justice comes from going after the driver. I'd feel the same way with taxis or limos. If I get in a Yellow Cab, and the driver robs me, justice doesn't come from Yellow Cab, it comes from going after the driver.

    I fail to see why if someone does something bad, they can hide behind a company, or why that company is at fault. If the company knows that driver has been in trouble before or has other reasons for doubting the driver's ability to not do bad things, then the company could have some culpability, but the majority of responsibility always lies in the person who did the bad thing, not someone who pays them, whether as an employee or a contractor.

     

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  11.  
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    Mason Wheeler (profile), Mar 28th, 2013 @ 3:29pm

    Why are we still talking about Uber?

    Wasn't Uber discredited once it was revealed that they're:

    1) run by an Objectivist
    2) who engaged in heavy price gouging during the Hurricane Sandy emergencies
    3) which is blatantly illegal on top of being despicable? (But exactly what you'd expect from an Objectivist.)

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2013 @ 4:09pm

    would you fly on an airline that used the same 'scam' as these guys, and allow them to operate without regulation ?

    you also know these are the very same regulations that the taxi companies have to follow, therefore these "new" players are trying to gain an unfair (trading) advantage by not following the laws.

    these regulations have been put in place for a reason, just like ensuring pilots of jet's are suitability checked and trained, and aircraft meet specific standards. And it's not just about the risk to pasengers but also for the drivers and the company, are they fully insured ?

    Can both the car and driver be easily identified, and is there any mechanism in place to ensure competent and honest drivers, or any method of punishment if these companies fail to meet some minimum standard? Such as security for the driver like armoured driver seat backs or in car video?, or a panic button system ?

    what recourse do you have if one of these 'amateur' services fair to show up ? or if the driver is abusive ? or he smells ? or aggressive, or steals off you ?

    or is not really with the group he says he is, and you never get to ANY destination ?

    Again, these regulations are in place for valid reasons, and things like training, certification, security, professionalism, right down to the requirement to wear uniforms and be easily identifiable are there for a valid reason.

    If an airline started operating, and were really cheap, (after all they don't need to maintain their planes, meet regulations like pilot checking, or training. would you be willing to fly with them. and is it fair that people could be put at risk (and professionals lose their jobs) because someone wants to make profit, but not provide a safe and effective service ?

    this article just shows how shallow Masnicks mind is, and how nothing matters except how much money you can scam off people.

     

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  13.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Mar 28th, 2013 @ 4:15pm

    Re:

    Well, while technically the government can't grant a monopoly, what they can, and have done is pass laws that make it effectively impossible for any competition to challenge the companies currently on top.

     

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  14.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Mar 28th, 2013 @ 10:53pm

    Re:

    History always repeats itself. The Catholics had the Index Librorum Prohibitorum which was a list of banned books. People in the taxi and limo business have this report.

    I do believe, much like the best sellers the Catholic church created with their banned book list, this will be the go to guide of Taxi services of the techno literate.

     

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  15.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Mar 28th, 2013 @ 10:53pm

    Re:

    History always repeats itself. The Catholics had the Index Librorum Prohibitorum which was a list of banned books. People in the taxi and limo business have this report.

    I do believe, much like the best sellers the Catholic church created with their banned book list, this will be the go to guide of Taxi services of the techno literate.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    special-interesting (profile), Mar 29th, 2013 @ 12:36am

    Taxi AND Limo trade group? In big cities these two are mortal enemies of each other both in economic warfare and supposed social status. Its almost impossible to conceive these competing groups to agree on anything. Laughable.

    Its fascinating that an individual cab or limo might actually bypass a central dispatch altogether empowering a whole new level of middlemen removal. This brings to mind the obvious question who the lobbying firm represents the dispatch/firms or the drivers? Looks like the drivers loose. (again?)

    Haven't examined the individual rules for each of those apps but suspect a diverse approach from dispatch fee based to fuel charge only carpooling. (all should be the option of the user)

    As for taxi regulation 95% is basically for squeezing more revenue from them at the expense of drivers. Both (big city) Limo and Taxi firms are legendary for getting drivers to work 18/hr days min for decent, family supporting wage, earnings. The 5% of safety is mostly just talk no action. Same for Limo drivers as its basically a city fee charged at the airport for admission to the limo lot. (all cities are unique in their fee and tax structure)

    Since GPS tracking on smart-phones is normal it would be hard for driver cheating. Also the same for many safety issues so the reasons for government regulation has (almost) vanished. (total agreement) this would especially be true if the phone app actually kept track of the route and fare as part of the service or at least helped (to respect personal privacy) to record it and or at least compare actual mileage/km rates.

    Liability is dependent on the hard to encompass concept of “negligence”. Might be nice for some passenger safety rules/etiquette like taking a picture of the driver (like many large city cabs are required to do of the passenger) and sending it to a friend or home.

    A red light warning given to the “Taxi, Limousine & Paratransit Association” and related proposed legislation!

     

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  17.  
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    PRMan, Mar 29th, 2013 @ 4:39am

    Re:

    "would you fly on an airline that used the same 'scam' as these guys"

    That depends. Do I have to go through a TSA checkpoint?

     

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  18.  
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    laughtiger (profile), Mar 29th, 2013 @ 9:06am

    Re:

    You suppose Uber doesn't hand out "fat brown envelopes full of cash?" They have more money to burn than the cab companies, and less public scrutiny...

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2013 @ 11:05am

    Guys just sharing, I've found this interesting! Check it out!
    CITI CAB Arizona
    http://www.citi-cab.com/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Francesco Cippiani, Jun 4th, 2013 @ 11:30am

    Phorego - The new kid on the block, is available on 3 continents, in 5 languages for PCs, Tablets and Smartphones. Allows businesses, universities and communities to create their own

    rideshare groups with carpooling/vanpooling features.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    rashed, Jun 14th, 2013 @ 11:38pm

    Most limos already have twwo exit doors and tempered safety glass that will break easily with a break out tool ! The problem will be with the intoxicated passengers opening them up and falling out. Most modern cars lock the doors as soon as the car is in gear, cchild door locks are also a problem! I propose a law to put smoke detectors and glass break out tools in every coMmercial passenger vehicle. Smoke detectors would provide an early warning system and would be inexpensive. Any upstanding operator would already have a fire extinguisher and first aid kit in their vehicles.

     

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  22.  
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    Martin Stich, Oct 29th, 2013 @ 12:40pm

    Look at the Czech Republic

    In the Czech Republic the private hire ended up in the same bucket with all the taxi drivers. So now if you hire a private ambulance or wedding limo, you are being driven in a taxi. The big players on the taxi field were so much worried about our fixed price, private and cost-efficient services that they tried to ban us through the government. Fortunately apart from complications the situation brought, we can legally offer fixed price services. UBER, LIFTAGO, BLACKLANE is established on our market and some of the taxi companies understood that the APPS' way is the way to go. So system is changing. But it is amazing how much money can change...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    Avelimo, Nov 13th, 2013 @ 12:33am

    Affordable of Limousine Service Rentals

    Check out this page:
    http://www.avelimo.com for more info.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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