Rideshare roundup: cab companies take on Uber and Lyft

This week I interviewed the owner of a taxi company on the podcast and the episode got a great response (1,000 downloads and counting in just 5 days).  I wasn’t sure what people would respond but I wanted to provide insight into what it’s like on the other side of the coin.  I’ve been known to lambast taxi drivers and blame them for being smelly, dirty, and riddled with poor customer service but after talking to Woody for close to an hour, my perspective definitely changed, a little bit.

Now I didn’t become a taxi cheerleader overnight, because I do still think that there are a lot of bad apples out there, but my interview did make me feel for the plight of the good guys like Woody.  He is just a small operation but yet the amount of regulation and government BS that he has to deal with is astounding.  Through it all though, he doesn’t blame Uber and Lyft and he actually feels that they are a good thing for society.

Cabbies to ignore customers, rally at City Hall in protest of Uber

I made a joke on Facebook that protesting Uber is so 2014, but apparently there are still a lot of taxi drivers out there who just don’t get it.  Instead of focusing their energy on improving their crappy service and fighting insane regulation laws, they are protesting by not picking up their customers.  Meanwhile, those customers that need a ride are calling Uber and Lyft – great marketing plan guys.

DeSoto, S.F.’s oldest taxi firm, rebrands itself as Flywheel – San Francisco

Whether you realize it or not, competition is a good thing for drivers and riders.  And this story out of San Francisco is pretty big news.  While Chicago cabbies were busy protesting, SF’s oldest taxi firm has realized that if you can’t beat them, why not join them.

Although there are plenty of drivers who still love driving for Uber, I suspect there is a growing faction that would gladly hop on board with DeSoto/Flywheel if the price is right.  It may not offer quite the same flexibility as Uber but it will be interesting to see how DeSoto/Flywheel scale up their fleet of cars and what kind of service they provide.

Facing Demand, Uber Expands Funding Round by $1 Billion

Not wanting to be outdone by the cab companies, Uber went out and raised another billion dollars.  This isn’t the same billion I talked about a few weeks ago and it isn’t the same billion I talked about a couple months ago.  This is another billion dollars which will likely be used for expansion and growth (and fighting those pesky lawsuits).

And for those who are keeping score at home, Uber is now averaging over $1 billion/month in funding over the past 4 months 🙂

Uber Partners With Breathometer To Suggest Drunken-Driving Alternatives

Speaking of Uber, this week they also announced a partnership with Breathometer which is basically a breathalyzer that will recommend you call an Uber if you’re wasted.  I don’t know if something like this will catch on but if you’re a single guy, these things are a hit at the bars.  Just an fyi.

Uber vs. Lyft: 5 Things I Learned From Giving Up My Car

If you want to avoid DUI’s, then the next best thing is to give up your car completely.  I wouldn’t exactly call this a scientific study but there were some pretty interesting findings in it.  If you combine public transportation, walking, biking, rideshare and car rentals, I think you could get away with not having a car in most major cities.  I don’t think the savings (if any) would be quite worth it though unless you’re in a compact city like SF or NY.

Self-Driving Cars Disrupt the Crowd

Self-driving cars will be on the road in 5-10 years but like with other high-tech products they’re going to be a luxury item.  I think it will be 10-20 years before they start taking on commercial and more widespread applications.

Lyft Drivers Get a Party, but Still No Benefits

I’m only featuring this story because I want to know where my invite was?

I also helped out with a couple interesting articles this week: one on Uber car financing – which by the way is a horrible deal for drivers.  And another on whether or not passengers should be tipping their drivers.  I’ll be fighting for this issue big time for you guys in 2015 but I think it’s important to remember that I don’t think every driver deserve a tip on every ride.  Instead, I think it’s important for riders to have the option to tip in the app and let the service speak for itself.

Readers, what do you think about cab companies becoming more Uber-like, Uber raising billions and consumers getting rid of their cars?