Posted December 10, 2015
By BRITTANY CHANDANI
Uber and Lyft are companies that are transforming the world of transportation by offering a “ride-sharing” service using freelance drivers hired under their own policies.
With features like pick ups in a luxury vehicle, or UberBoat, in which requesters can call for a yacht to transport them across the bay to avoid this year’s Art Basel traffic, it is this technology that is causing taxis to lose their edge.
The simpler benefits of Uber and Lyft are that they provide a cheaper, user friendly option for transportation. With the click of a button on a smart phone, customers can request a pick up at their location within minutes and be on their way to a destination. This convenience makes them more accessible than waiting for taxis.
However, these big companies are caught up in Miami-Dade’s policies for transportation for the public. Since they regulate their own fares and hire drivers based on their own qualifications, this large deregulation is causing uproar in the highly regulated taxi industry.
Taxi driver Adhema Auguste has a problem with Uber.
“When you call Uber, anyone can pick you up, but you have 20,000 of them and only 3,700 taxis,” said Auguste. “Uber is good for when you don’t have money since it is cheaper. The fare can be $100 or $20, depending on if they have activities or not, but taxis are always one price.”
Another issue is that of taxi medallions — in which a cab must have a $300,000 permit to operate legally, but Uber and Lyft have not operated under those terms either.
“Taxi medallions will not be worth anything,” said Auguste. “Now, they won’t even cost $100,000. The mayor doesn’t want taxis but likes Uber because it’s so cheap.”
While the process of legalizing Uber is difficult, it is transforming means of transportation.
Amanda Crowley, freshman at University of Miami, said that she has yet to see a large taxi presence in Florida like her hometown of New York City.
“[In New York] it’s hard to walk three feet without seeing a taxi and here, I can go weeks without seeing one,” said Crowley. “Lyft and Uber feel like the only means of transportation. Do I want to spend 20 minutes tracking down a taxi in Florida or just call a Lyft? There aren’t enough taxis here for the demand.”
While the taxi presence is much lower in Miami, before Lyft or Uber, that was the only way. Mayor Carlos Gimenez believes that these big companies are the wave of the future, and his plan is to make them legal within Miami-Dade County by the end of this year, while also forgiving $1.4 million in fines to the companies.
Uber driver Rodrigo has not been involved with any fines or legal issues, and has “complete trust that Uber will resolve everything, as they are a big respected company.”
Taxi driver Erilian Tilus said that he has nothing against Uber, but wants the city to legalize it so that they cab condition the prices so there is less competition.
“Right now, since Uber is here, the taxi company cannot abuse us since they need all of us,” Tilus said. “But the medallions will be worth nothing.”
Sophomore Tiffany Clausen prefers Uber and Lyft compared to taxis mainly because of the price difference.
“A ride to South Beach from my apartment in Brickell with Uber is under $15 and over $30 with a taxi,” said Clausen. “I also enjoy the convenience of the app. An Uber is available at the click of a button and usually arrives in under five minutes. It shows exactly what car with the license plate, how many minutes away the car is, and the driver’s info and rating. It’s also convenient that your credit card is connected to the account, so you never have to worry about paying them.”
The main reason why Uber and Lyft gained such popularity with this digital generation is simple: convenience.
“One night I took a taxi home versus an Uber and they didn’t take credit cards, so I had to go to an ATM and it was such a huge inconvenience,” said Clausen. “Uber and Lyft have revolutionized our means of transportation and they should be approved by the county as legal means of transportation. If taxis want to stay in business, they need to compete with them.”