TNC World Turns Into Fight Club Amid Disputes, Conflicts

Posted on August 1, 2014
The dramas surrounding Transportation Network Companies and ensuing regualtory conflicts won't subside anytime soon, as the ground transportation market convulses under sweeping technological changes. Here are the latest headlines, and there's a whole lot of fightin' words:

TNC CATFIGHT: Customers using the new smartphone-enabled ride-sharing service Lyft may be surprised when instead of a car with Lyft's signature pink mustache on the grill they get an Uber vehicle instead.That was the experience of Ira Goldstein, executive director of the Black Car Fund and a former chief of staff at the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission, who e-hailed his first Lyft car last Friday, and had an Uber driver show up. Crain's New York Business article here

CLUSTER FIGHT: If there are sane reasons to be bullish on Uber, there are equally solid grounds for doubt. Competitors will steal market share, encouraged by the lack of any strong barrier to entry. Regulators will keep imposing new costs, and cities will continue to ban Uber outright. Looking further down the road, a new technology, be it driverless cars or a nonprofit collective, will inevitably threaten Uber’s business in the same way Uber has unsettled the taxi industry’s. Forbes article here

THROWING STONES: There is a battle going on across the country and around the world between emerging innovation and entrenched business models when it comes to getting from Point A to Point B.If the cab companies can’t compete with the innovative new rideshare services, then so be it. Taxi cab companies will simply go extinct — like the horse and buggy. Forbes column here

FAIR FIGHT FOR FARES? Former NYTLC Commissioner turned IATR President Matt Daus sees the current battle between the upstart ridesharing companies and the existing cab and limo industry ultimately ending in two ways — either they'll end up working within the confines of the existing laws and become part of the fabric of daily transportation, working side by side with cabbies, or the market will ultimately become deregulated, which he says would be a disaster, indicating how such efforts around the world have proven to be ineffective. Creative Loafing article here

UBER VS. CAB FIGHT ROILS BOSTON: As Uber digs ever deeper into taxi territory, Boston’s simmering livery war comes to a boil. Boston Magazine article here

INSURANCE BEEFS: From almost the beginning, the taxi industry has used the TNC’s lack of adequate insurance as a weapon to fight off this new competitor. And, the taxi industry was, and in some cases, is still right. Despite protests on the TNC companies’ blogs, there still appear to be holes in the coverage provided. Enhanced Insurance article here

PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE: CBS San Francisco reports that Uber is disabling the illegal app and passengers affected by it will receive a refund. We also have new information from Chris, the driver who alerted the media to the problem, and from a driver named Simon, who said he used the hack after SFO officials blocked Uber cars from going inside the airport. article here

BIG TAXI GUNS: The taxi cab industry has donated at least $3,500 to the political war-chests of state legislators for every $1 that Uber, Lyft and Sidecar gave. This massive discrepancy in political giving may also explain why at least 12 states and the District of Columbia have introduced new regulations aimed to limit these popular ride-sharing applications. Sunlight Foundation article here

GOING ROGUE: Hansu Kim, the embattled co-owner of DeSoto Cab Company, made headlines last week when he announced plans to defect from the taxi industry. He's found himself in an untenable position — squeezed, on one side, by the strict set of fees and regulations for taxi drivers, and on the other, by a new crop of competitors who aren't playing by the same rules. SFWeekly article here

PUT ON YOUR ARMOR: Two weeks after Uber began offering its UberX ridesharing service in Baton Rouge, Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon is urging potential drivers to carefully review their insurance policies before signing up with the company or other prospective ridesharing companies. Baton Rouge Business Report article here

ENEMY INTELLIGENCE: New website shows where and what laws Uber violates. article here

-- Compiled by LCT editor Martin Romjue

Related Topics: Boston operators, limo tradeshows, Lyft, Massachusetts operators, New York operators, New York Taxi & Limousine Commission, regulatory enforcement, taxis, TNCs, Uber

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