Thursday, June 05, 2014

Uber in Miami! ... By gimleteye

Shocked! The web based car service, Uber, decided to launch in Miami and not wait around for the unreformable county commission to get around whatever obstacles a couple of very wealthy taxi cab company owners have erected in Uber's way and its competitor, Lyft. Hooray!

The victims is this mess of regulatory capture are Miami cab drivers. They are squeezed, mostly, by the cab company owners. In Miami, with its decrepit cab fleet, this embarrassment is hopefully over.

Uber and its competitor can succeed as they have in other major cities if the Miami Dade county commission and Mayor Gimenez get out of their way.  Miami Dade County: get out of the way!


Anonymous said...

Wonderful news! Hopefully, no more filthy cabs being driven by grouch drivers!

Geniusofdespair said...

Please don't paint all cab drivers with one brush. They are hard working men and women.

Anonymous said...

The cabs ARE filthy and the cab drivers ARE crabby because the two cab company owners are greedy SOBs who deserve what's coming: competition in the free market. Agree with g here: county commission, get out of the way!

Eleazar David Meléndez said...

As someone who just got to Miami, I've been kind of surprised at the level of praise these companies have gotten for their decision to just say 'F it, we're just going to if ignore the rules' I mean, I get it. SOMEONE told the greasy banana republic that's the MD County Commission to go pound sand. Crooked politicians were holding up antiquated regulations mainly to protect their cronies and here comes this new player and gives them a big fat middle finger. Hooray, I guess.

At the same time, you guys do realize you're clapping on behalf of a faceless company that has decided it's just going to break the law because it doesn't like it? You realize the precedent this sets if the gov't doesn't crack down? What if the next whiz bang app to come along is one that connects people to freelance gambling entrepreneurs (a.k.a. illegal card games) who can't be bothered to lobby themselves a casino license? What if the next app connects people to freelance bankers (a.k.a. loan sharks) in an attempt to bypass pesky banking regulations? What if the next app connects people to individuals who will rent their private jet skis for joy rides in manatee sensitive areas, where regulated companies can't go? Will you also be saying "Hooray!"?

One last thought. You correctly note that this development hurts cabbies by adding competition. But there's a more problematic way I see this. Most cabbies here are (or start out as) recent immigrants, which makes sense given how crappy a job it is. If you read today's Herald story with the reporter taking several rides, most of the Uber drivers appear to be creative professionals with some free time. I bet you dollars to donuts the average Uber driver speaks English as a first language and is lighter-skinned than the average cabbie. This is no coincidence. While fair hiring laws can punish cab companies if they say something like "No Haitians, they can't speak English" or "No black people, they scare the tourist", Uber does not have these restrictions since they're not "hiring" anyone. So yes, some of the regulations the new system is pushing away are stupid ones meant to make the cab companies rich. But some of them are meaningful labor protections.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect to the points raised by the writer above, name another city that has a cab fleet so run down, beat up, and basically disgusting as Miami's?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Melendez makes many excellent points. What is scary is that the discussion and proposed legislation about Uber at the Board of County Commissioners never even made it past the Committee level. I believe it was not even allowed to be brought up at the Committee level. There must be a better system that allows new ideas and new legislation to at least be debated in a proper Commission Meeting? The two owners of the cab companies are too powerful.

Anonymous said...

Hail the introduction of the new Apps for ground transportation. But the County owes the investors in the yellow cab system some opportunity to adjust to the new world.

The County should allow these new ground transportation companies to enter the market slowly, allowing the taxi folks to phase out the value of the taxi permits.

Do you realize the government was selling these permits through auction and taking in huge money, in the neighborhood of $300K for each taxi permit?

Anonymous said...

In a place where the lifeblood is tourists one would expect a tourist related industry to be calling the shots politically. Plus this is an industry with a long history of sketchy business practices... shitty service, POS cabs and price gouging being their chief claim to fame.

When the crusie ships complained their passengers being "mistreated" by the taxis the industry dug in their heels.
The crew ship industry eventually did and run and set up limousine service between the port and the airport. Now tourist don't even get a chance to stop, shop or eat in Miami and the cruise ships fleece them at will.
Cruise ships, one cabbies and Miami zero.

As long as the cabs have a monopoly they will maintain the status quo. I can't recall one improvement from zone pricing to air conditioning to credit card machines that haven't had to be mandated by reluctant regulators over the objections of the industry.

Citizens voting with their pocketbook (or in this case an app) is the only real way to counter the political monopoly. Just consider it digital disobedience.

Anonymous said...

I know you aren't fans of the county government, but I cant believe you aren't fans of the rule of law.

Were you happy when John Dubois cut down mangrove trees without a permit?

Then why is it ok for a company from San Fransisco to come in and put unqualified, questionably insured, and flat-out illegal taxis on the streets of miami?

Anonymous said...

I don't give a shit about the taxi companies, but what abuot the third of the taxi drivers that own their medallions? what about the drivers who already struggle to make their lease payments to the other medallion owners?

they play by the rules - as f-ed up as they may be. why should they have to compete with unlicenesed contractors?

would you celebrate a major corporation hiring a bunch of unlicensed people to start fixing houses in your neighborhood?

Anonymous said...

Taxi companies don't own their cabs. Nearly all drivers have to bring their own car.

Apparently everyone forgot there was a recession/depression the last 5 years. The taxis were allowed to get older than usual because of that. Since things have improved, nearly the entire fleet is in the process of being replaced with newer cars.

Anonymous said...

Mayor Gimenez supported the legislation to allow Uber. Do your homework. It was the Commission that killed it, not him.

Anonymous said...

From what I have gathered in the past, its the license holder of a old license that's making any money in this racket. Every body else just treading water.

Anonymous said...

Police are using the app to seize vehicles. You need a license.