Cab drivers in Cambridge, Massachusetts went on strike a week ago (on Monday August 3) to protest the city’s failure to pass a law requiring that drivers from ride sharing services like Uber work under the same rules they do. The cabbies, who have expensive amounts of red tape to jump through just to get a license to carry passengers around town, are miffed that drivers from Uber and other ride-sharing services aren’t required to abide by the same rules.
They have a point, but seem to be unaware of the actual problem. Let me delve into some politics for a moment.
Cab drivers in Cambridge are required to carry high amounts of liability insurance, must pass state-sanctioned background checks, and are required to pay large fees to get a cab driver’s license for themselves and their vehicles. They are also required to keep meticulous records of their trips and payments for tax purposes.
Uber drivers have almost none of that.
The cabbies want Uber and other ride-sharing services to have their drivers live under the same onerous rules the cabbies do. They don’t seem to see that the rules themselves are the actual problem. The city- and state-mandated rules for cab drivers restrict who can do the job, who can own a taxi cab, and more. Uber bypasses all of those rules and allows anyone with a car to make money driving it the same way a cabbie would.
The cabbies of Cambridge are too blind to see that their issue is not competition from cheaper competitors, it’s the fact that they are not allowed a level playing field because they are bound by laws that act as protectionist schemes rather than safety systems. Services like Uber offer a way around those schemes. Were I a cab driver in Cambridge (or anywhere else), I’d seriously consider jumping ship and joining the competition.
How about you?