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Sunday Poll: The Taxicab Commission has been fighting with Uber ride sharing service. Which side do you support?

The battle between the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission, which regulates taxicabs in both St. Louis City & St. Louis County, and Uber, the ride sharing app got lots of attention last week:

One day before Uber was slated to begin giving free rides through the holiday weekend, it withdrew the offer. The ride-hailing service said it reversed course after the St. Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission ordered its drivers to get temporary permits.

The move came as a surprise to many, because the Uber drivers would not have charged passengers. (Post-Dispatch)

Here’s more specifics:

On Monday, Uber offered to give free rides over the long Fourth of July weekend. On Tuesday, the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission said it was considering the proposal. On Wednesday, the MTC laid out a series of conditions for UberX drivers, like fingerprint background checks and cheek swab drug tests. Thursday, Uber cancelled its plans.

Uber called those requirements “onerous” and said it’s already checked the backgrounds of its drivers. It also accused the MTC of a “charade” to help taxi companies keep out competition. (KMOX)

There is a lot of passion on both sides of this issue, making it a perfect topic for today’s Sunday Poll.

The poll closes at 8pm. Note: This post was updated by moving the poll from the sidebar to within the post, this permits mobile users to vote without having to switch to the desktop layout on their mobile browser.

— Steve Patterson

 

Currently there are "8 comments" on this Article:

  1. JZ71 says:

    The Taxi Commission is (attempting to) enforce the state law, as written, that requires the state, not Uber, do the background criminal check on all drivers. If you don’t like the state law, go to Jeff City and get the law changed – don’t blame the Commission for doing what they’re supposed to do!

    Yeah, this is mostly a turf war, aimed at protecting an existing monopoly industry, but I also have serious concerns about predators working as drivers, incompetent drivers and a lack of standards and adequate insurance. As others have pointed out, driving your personal vehicle for hire almost always invalidates the insurance most of us carry (and can afford), and if I’m hit by hired driver with sketchy insurance, I don’t want to spend months (or years) figuring out the legalities: http://www.all-about-car-accidents.com/resources/car-accidents-i-was-hit-by-uber-lyft-driver-what-now.html

     
  2. Mark-AL says:

    When I lived in the LA area and when my sons were young, I used to take them to Tijuana on Saturdays, as often as once a month. It was safe(r) there then. After hailing a cab there for the first time, I told the boys we’d be walking from place to place on all future trips. Taxi service in Tijuana reminds me of what I PERCEIVE Uber could become as customers get used to seeing Uber around, out of the public focus/close scrutiny. Taxi service in Tiajuana is obviously unregulated, and I seriously doubt that drivers there are necessarily prompt with their liability insurance premium payments each month. Kinda like that you’d expect to find in Cuba. While (being a Republican) I’m not a fan of regulation, I do support the efforts of taxi cab commissions across the country to enforce certain standards to protect their clients. Insurance is a big deal. Imagine getting t-boned in the back seat of a Uber-sponsored Chevy Cruse, then learning that the driver had failed to disclose to his insurance carrier the fact that sometimes he feels in the mood to use his vehicle as a taxi-cab. Oooops! Sorry about that! And as filthy as legitimate taxi-cabs can be and as shady as SOME taxi-cab drivers appear to be (especially in the NY City, New Jersey and Washington, DC), I’ll take my chances crawling into a Yellow Cab where I know I’m insured, reasonably sure that the driver has passed background checks and drug tests sometime in the recent past, where I know that the vehicle has been given some sort of legitimate mechanical inspection sometime in the recent past, and where rates are posted. I won’t even buy a coffee mug at a yard sale if the hosting party hasn’t taken the time to price each item! So I’ll willingly pay a few extra bucks for the “insurance and assurances” provided by a legitimate taxi-cab company.

     
  3. RyleyinSTL says:

    Uber’s ease of use is something the Taxi folks need to take a look at. Dispatch and payment is very slick with Uber. The last time I tried to pay for a taxi ride with a credit/debit card in STL I received all sorts of flack….why would I support that?

    Saying that, I support a little due diligence on the drivers.

     
    • Mark-AL says:

      Your experience with credit card payment in a traditional cab was likely an anomaly. I’ve found traditional cabbies prefer credit card payments because their use limits their exposure for theft. I’ve found this attitude as prevalent in NYCity as in Warsaw, MO.

       
      • ScottF says:

        I’ve also had pushback from St. Louis cab drivers when trying to use a credit card.

         
        • John R says:

          It is a common complaint…. cab companies screw the cabbies by typically taking 10% of the fare to “process” the transaction.

           
  4. Becca Stevens says:

    Uber and Lyft are both terrible ideas. Their drivers are not making a living wage, no matter what the companies say to the contrary. And the companies won’t even acknowledge them as ’employees’, only as ‘independent contractors’, so the drivers have no bargaining leverage. Short term, this is good for the consumer because it keeps cost down, but long term it is bad for everyone because it devalues labor.

     
    • Mark-AL says:

      Good point! But unfortunately, legitimate drivers of traditional cabs aren’t treated much better. And even “full-time” legitimate cabbies work as “independent contractors” and without benefits. When I lived in STL, a friend studying at Wash U worked part time for Laclede Cab of STL. (ALL cabbies work “part time”. There are no “salaried” or full-time cabbies.) Sometimes, after working 8 hours on a slow or rainy night, he hadn’t made a dime profit. And after paying the up-front costs to LaClede for using Laclede’s vehicle (then approx. $75.00 per 24/hr period) , after paying for the fuel, then paying for the (mandatory) daily vehicle wash, on a slow day he actually ended up donating his services and his money to Laclede Cab Company. So now we’re seeing Uber, et al., slithering into cities and teaming up with individuals who want to try their hand at playing cabdriver for a day, undercutting cabbies who already must really hustle just to make a buck, potentially compromising the well-being of clients who may be riding in the back seat of an uninsured/under-insured vehicle being driven by a lunatic, or worse by a convicted rapist or murderer. The taxicab commission certainly isn’t perfect and may operate too much like most other political organizations, but it does try to maintain verifiable operational standards among taxi companies in a given area in an effort to maintain minimum standards to protect clients, just like the construction labor unions there in STL, whose tenacity and training programs over the years have arguably created one of the finest, most highly skilled pools of skilled workmen that can be found anywhere in the United States, Europe and even Asia. You pay for what you get.

       

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