July 23, 2014
Last week, Miami-Dade commissioners gave the initial approval to allow ride-for-hire companies like Uber and Lyft to operate in Miami. This is a positive step towards finding a solution to the ongoing battle between public demand for transport alternatives to the yellow cab and vested private interests. However, the proposal is likely to face stiff resistance when it comes up again in a vote in September. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that not all cab drivers are against Uber and Lyft and some of them are starting to voice their support on the matter.
According to an article published by The New Times, The New Vision Taxi Drivers Association of Miami has taken an official stance in favor of Uber and Lyft. The association has 1,200 cabbies who believe the competition would help both customers and cab drivers.
“With Uber in Miami, taxi companies will have to change [because] customers and drivers will go toward wherever the best service is,” says Raymond François, the association’s chairman in the interview.
So it’s not only about customers’ preference to convenience and better service, it’s also about cab drivers potentially making the switch to working for Uber and Lyft.
And why wouldn’t they? According to François, cab drivers currently give about 80 percent of their earnings to taxi companies. As for insurance, taxi companies cover only passengers, leaving drivers and their cars without any coverage. And that’s just the beginning. Currently, most cab drivers have to pay an average daily fee of $140, plus the yearly renewal of taxi license of $625.
Compare that to driving for Uber, where cab drivers have to give about 20 percent of their earnings, and pay the company only when they are working. Uber also offers drivers and their cars full commercial insurance coverage from the moment they turn on their app and accept to give a ride.
With Uber as a competitor, François says, taxi companies will have to improve their services or face a tougher challenge from the newcomers. Concepts such as offering better technology will need to become a key component of that struggle.
South Florida Taxi Association, which has opposed the proposal to allow Uber and Lyft to set-up-shop in Miami, claims that the black car service would take away the taxis’ highest-paying customers. It would also devalue existing taxi permits and the coveted taxi medallions which are carefully regulated by the county and cost about $340,000 per medallion.
So cab drivers, join the cause! It is a win-win for you too.
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