Walking out of the gym on Mass. Ave. in Cambridge, Mass. Monday morning, The Shad was treated to the sight of dozens of taxis and cabbies on strike, jamming up the street in front of City Hall. They were protesting Uber and Lyft, the ride sharing services that are growing in popularity, particularly in places like Cambridge and Somerville, suburbs of Boston. It was a very bad move for the cab drivers.
First, anyone who needed a ride (it was about 11 a.m.), couldn’t get a cab. If these folks weren’t inclined to get the Uber app. before, they certainly are now having been left stranded by the strike. (I have the Uber app. and use it all the time.)
Second, if the cab drivers don’t like people ditching them for Uber or Lyft, I have some advice for them: Get better! The simple fact is when one takes a cab, they don’t know who they are getting for a driver; they don’t know if the cab will show on time—or at all. They don’t know the condition of the vehicle and have to deal with cabbies getting nasty if you don’t pay cash. Further, you are always wondering what you should tip.
With the Uber app., you know what the driver looks like, the color and make of the vehicle and the license plate. You can follow a little car on your phone as it works its way toward you. No money changes hands—your app. is connected to a debit or credit card. You are required to rate the last driver you had and he rates the riders. Transparency, accountability, convenience; of course people will flock there.
Much has been made of the one Uber driver who somehow made it through the screening process and ended up sexually assaulting a woman. He is in custody and they should lock him up permanently. But that is the very rare instance with ride sharing. Taxis are no safer.
The end result of the taxi drivers’ strike is that they will lose more business to ride sharing and the riding public won’t care.