Finally Accepting TNCs Are Here to Stay — A Decade Later

Jim Luff
Posted on March 13, 2019
(Flickr.com image)
(Flickr.com image)

It’s hard to believe this month marks 10 years since the launch of Uber in San Francisco. My opinions have run the gamut from utter amusement to complete acceptance and even usage. The fact is they are here to stay.

Uber has creeped its way into the American language as well as into our favorite television programs from dramas to sit-coms. Hearing the phrases, “Let me get you an Uber” or “I’ll just grab a Lyft” have become as normal and everyday as using the words baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie.

Like it or not, TNCs are an integral part of the U.S. ground transportation system.

In March 2009 when Uber launched, I found the whole idea of riding in a stranger’s car preposterous. My mama always told me not to talk to strangers, so getting in a car with one was unthinkable. As Uber began to show up in Los Angeles, I falsely believed it might catch on in big cities, but it would never show up in my local market of Bakersfield, Calif., a place where some people still act as if we are riding around in buggies and carriages pulled by horses.

By 2013, TNCs had indeed arrived in Bakersfield. By then, the luxury ground transportation industry had been up in arms for years. I steadfastly maintained they would never encroach on my business. I drove executives from Chevron, Shell, Exxon-Mobil, Berkshire-Hathaway, and AT&T. Surely they would not place their executives in cars with strangers. I catered to the rich and elite members of my community who would likely never ride in a taxi, let alone a stranger’s car. I took large groups of people out bar hopping for the night. They enjoyed the lap of luxury and sipping cocktails as they traveled.

By 2015, all those opinions were gone. Our local airport finally caved in to Uber and Lyft in 2018 and allowed them on airport property. The ban to keep them out was arranged in 2010 solely by my pressure and education of airport authorities to do so.

In 2017, I attended a meeting in Washington, D.C. with NLA President Gary Buffo. I listened to Buffo tell Congressman Kevin McCarthy, then Majority Leader of the House, the luxury ground transportation didn’t want to see TNCs go away. We just wanted them to be regulated in the same way as our industry.  After all, we are doing the same thing: Driving the public. I relished in his comments as I knew they would never go away and fighting to make them go away would prove futile. Regulating them seemed so much more sensible as we were way past the mark of banning them.

As we progress on a decade later, I love viewing social media comments from industry pioneers like Charlie Horky who said, “They (TNC’s) have really helped define chauffeured services. People know they have a choice and honestly a better one than ever before with availability and reach. So, when they choose chauffeured services, it’s because they know well they will pay for that service and (they) expect it (luxury)”.

For those who don’t know Horky, he is the original founder of CLS (formerly known as Charlie’s Limousine Service in Los Angeles), now known as Empire CLS Worldwide Chauffeured Services. He now runs Slade Services Chauffeured Transportation Management in Las Vegas. It’s time to just focus on seeking passengers who crave luxury ground transportation and stop worrying about TNCs at all. They’re here, they’re practical, and they aren’t going anywhere.

I don’t think we need to “educate” the public about them anymore, either. There have been enough stories about rapes, murders, and assaults occurring at the hands of TNC’s drivers. Everyone knows the risks. It’s almost as redundant as trying to teach people if you play with fire, you are likely to get burned.

Related Topics: Charlie Horky, Jim Luff, Las Vegas operators, LCT blog, Lyft, passenger safety, staying competitive, TNCs, Uber, VIP service

Jim Luff Contributing Editor
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