Is Uber a threat to Evanston?

An image from the Uber website.

The ride-sharing service Uber has been drawing praise and criticism across the country -- and it may soon face new regulation here in Evanston.

After a representative of a local taxi company, Norshore Cab, criticized new ride-sharing services like Uber at Monday night's City Council meeting, Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, asked city staff to look into whether more regulation of the services is needed.

Don Wilson.

Two bills approved last month by the state legislature HB4075 and HB5331 -- if signed by Gov. Quinn -- would impose a variety of restrictions on ridesharing services statewide.

And the City of Chicago last month adopted an ordinance -- which in some respects conflicts with the state legislation -- that, among other things, would impose licensing fees of up to $25,000 on ride-share drivers.

In each case taxi drivers and owners have been the main advocates of the restrictions -- claiming the ride share services threaten to put them out of business.

Uber, which initially fought the Chicago regulations, says they are less restrictive than what's been proposed in Springfield

Taxi rates are regulated by local municipalities. In Evanston rates are $2 for the first quarter mile, plus $2.40 for each additional mile or fraction thereof and $0.50 per minute spent waiting..

Uber's rate for its least-expensive service in the Chicago area are $2.40 plus $0.24 per minute plus $1 per mile.

So, a three-mile trip in Evanston that took 10 minutes and involved no wait time would cost $9.20 by taxi and $7.80 by Uber.

If rush-hour traffic added 10 minutes of wait time to the trip, the ride would cost $14.20 by taxi and $10.20 by Uber.

But Uber, whose rates are not now government-regulated, has also used demand-based pricing that can substantially boost those rates when demand for rides hits a peak.

The commercial ride-sharing concept has drawn fire as a threat to the livelihood of hard-working cabbies, and praise as an innovative, money-saving alternative to surly taxi service.

What do you think? If you've ridden in both cabs and ride-sharing vehicles recently -- which worked best for you? Do you think Evanston needs to get into the business of regulating ride sharing? And if so, how much regulation is needed?


Update 9:30 a.m. 6/25/14: For another angle on new alternatives in getting around -- Forbes reports on RelayRides, a car-sharing company that began with a model like ZipCar, but has had to change its strategy because of the rise of Uber and Lyft.

Comments

Uber Pros and Cons

I have not used Uber (or any other ride share service), but have heard favorable reports.  I think people are attracted to the ease of use and payment (having an online account, being able to see car locations on a Smartphone, etc.). However, it would be nice to know that the driver has had a background check, and the vehicle is insured at the necessary level. If they can offer better service, more knowledgable drivers, and less "surliness", keep the regulation to a minimum.

Have used both

I have used Uber occasionally but more regularly use 303 taxi.  I think the apeal of Uber is the ease of it.  So far the cars seem much nicer as well.  I have had pretty good drivers at both 303 and Uber. 

I do understand the frustration of taxi drivers feeling like they are losing out though.  More and more people are definatly using Uber.  However, it seems to me that the taxi drivers get the short end of the stick in the current taxi system though.  Some drivers own their cars, but most lease their cars from the medaleon owners or taxi companies each day.  When taxi rates are increased, the owners just increase what the drivers have to pay them for the car each day.  It is the taxi car owners who make the most money in the current system, and thus have the most to lose. 

The actual drivers might do better just switching to Uber...

Fan of Uber

I am a strong proponent of Uber and other rideshare services. I have difficulty getting a cab - cab drivers refuse to pick me up about 50% of the time. Having some competition might encourage cab drivers to actually pick up their fares.

Fees on ride-share companies

"would impose licensing fees of up to $25,000 on ride-share drivers."

No, it would be on the ride-share companies.

"The commercial ride-sharing concept has drawn fire as a threat to the livelihood of hard-working cabbies"

Sorry for them, but this is not a reason to ban progress that consumers demand. 

Good comments

I agree. Things change and we should allow change albeit under a watchful eye.

Norshore drivers have told me they prefer Uber

Many Norshore drivers I have interacted with have told me that they prefer Uber to working with the Norshore dispatchers.  I frequently ride from Evanston to O'Hare and I have had many opportunities to talk with drivers.

Uber is also putting positive pressure on Norshore to (maybe) start cleaning up its act. Over the years, Norshore has had some of the worst maintained cabs in the area and some of the most unreliable drivers.  Over hundreds of cab rides I've had to deal with several drivers who were drunk, and I've even had to ask drivers to let me out of a dangerously driven car.  It is so bad with Norshore that I specifically try to avoid using them when I can.  When I get rides home from O'Hare, I've switched almost entirely to American Taxi and Uber.

With Norshore, there is no immediate rating system.  I can go to a web site or a mobile app and tell the dispatcher what I thought of the ride. Have you ever tried to give Norshore feedback?  Your only mode of interaction with Norshore is a cranky dispatcher, it's awful. 

The article also makes absolutely no sense. I end up paying more with Uber than I do with Norshore consistently, but I'll pay the extra fees for the convenience.   I'm also able to understand when a cab has accepted my request for a ride but is leaving me waiting an extra 10-15 minutes to go pick up another fare.

Let's be honest about Norshore, it's modern slavery.  They don't care about the drivers, they care about making a buck, and they screw these drivers. Cab companies make money off of the most disadvantaged members of our society, and what you see here is a cab company reacting to the fact that someone is threatening to take away the plantation. If you want to understand Uber, go ask the drivers. Many of them will honestly tell you that they prefer working with Uber because they understand that they are going to get the money.

Another thing that is telling. Whenever I want to pay with a credit card on a Norshore ride, my driver dislikes this. I've wondered over the years what exactly happens to this credit card fare revenue that makes the driver dislike accepting credit cards, and my assumption is that when I use a credit card with one of these companies that they are charging an exorbinant fee on top of the Credit Card fees.  

After years of seeing it in action I can tell you that everything about Norshore stinks. Please open up the market for Uber.

I drove for Uber taxi

I drove for Uber taxi and then they suspended me for getting 4.3 out of 5 stars customer rating. Why would  any Yahoo driver pay someone to give them a fare. Uber took 2.5% of the meter and then the customer cheaps me out with a 12% tip. So for a six dollar fare, I would roughly get about 6.50 from Uber. How is that a good deal for me as a taxi driver?  If I had picked up that same fare off the street I might have gotten 8 or 9 dollars including tip. 

Uber is not good for taxi drivers. It's not good for the customer because if they take Uber x and get into an  accident and it's the Uber x driver's  fault, Uber will deny the insurance coverage. Uber is just adding a middleman which is themselves for a system that doesn't  need one. It's making money off a taxi system that is already in place. Down with Uber. It sucks.