Industry Research

The Rearview Mirror: A Look Back On 2018 Highlights

(Pexels.com photo by Imama Lavi)
(Pexels.com photo by Imama Lavi)

How will we as an industry remember 2018? I’d say this was the year operators finally accepted that adapting to change and disruption is the linchpin to success.

We’ve witnessed how the transportation network company (TNC) business has commoditized marketing and cut into our pricing structure for sedan work.

Still, so many of us are fighting back. We are rethinking and reshaping our business focus. We are seeing newfound potential in our local markets through contract work, meetings, and tours.

The mission of this year was about focus, retooling, and turning a profit. As we spend less time fretting about Uber and Lyft (thankfully the NLA is on the case), most operators I know are getting creative and turning their lemons into lemonade. The excellent economy and corporate tax breaks are a huge boon to us.

Nevertheless, we can’t help but cheer on tough times for the bad boys of Silicon Valley.

Industry Events Of 2018

Here are some events that helped give us a much needed boost of confidence:

• New York responds to Uber hacks and puts a moratorium on car service growth in Manhattan. While this crimps all sedan work in the city, it’s important to note the largest city in the country is putting its foot down on the TNC “Wild West” show.

• The #metoo movement is casting much needed attention on the risks of “cyber hitchhiking” — or should I say, riding in an Uber. Many of the negative stories about app drivers who are not screened are finally standing out in the news. What’s more, the coverage is creating a firestorm of concern for background checks and safety regulations.  

• The job market is very tight. The gig economy gained traction during the recessionary periods of 2008–2011. However, it’s fading fast as people are finding stable income not available before. So while we all struggle to find good talent, be glad you’re not Uber with a 68% driver turnover rate. Workers want stability.

• Driverless cars are not taking over — yet. Our LCT Technology Summit speaker, Chris Jones, co-founder and chief analyst at Canalys, said on April 30 fully autonomous vehicles will not emerge until 2045, and that’s a big MAYBE. The deadly accidents this past year did not help matters.

• Uber is sued by industry veteran Bijan Zoughi from Diva Limousine in Los Angeles over misclassifying drivers as independent contractors. The lawsuit claims Uber saved upwards of $500 million. The Department of Labor is investigating this.  

As we bid farewell to 2018, we say our prayers to the people of our great industry who’ve left this earth including icons Don Dailey, a former executive of Carey International, Art Rento Sr., the founder of Pontarelli Companies in Chicago and a D-Day survivor, and “Woody” Story, the chairman of James River Transportation in Richmond, Va.

We also mourn and pray over the families of the victims in the Oct. 6 limousine crash in upstate New York. Thankfully, accidents like these are extremely rare in our industry, but let this be a reminder on how important safety is to everyone involved in our businesses.

As we turn the corner to 2019, I encourage you to spread positive thoughts and encourage one another. Continue to innovate. Remember, we are a community that works best when we work together. There is so much to look forward to.  

I wish you and yours safe and blessed holidays.

Related Topics: industry trends, LCT Publisher, Sara Eastwood-Richardson

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