Uber is in the news again. B.C.’s transportation minister says it’s a matter of when, not if, Uber’s ridesharing business will land in our province.
No doubt Uber’s introduction will improve customer service, especially in Metro Vancouver. We’ve all experienced far too many occasions where we’ve had to wait for sometimes up to an hour for a taxi. Price will also certainly be much lower than for your conventional cab.
Why, then, am I not so positive about the minister’s announcement?
Sometimes we’re too quick to forget the taxi driver in this Uber debate. Many taxi drivers literally purchase a job for themselves. Unemployed and often without the skill set or professional certification in Canada to obtain a conventional job, taxi drivers/owners borrow literally hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase a taxi licence. Yes, you read that right — hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It’s not atypical for a taxi driver to have mortgaged all of their equity in their home to finance the taxi purchase. Just to make ends meet, many drivers must work a 12-hour day and do so 6, sometimes 7 days a week. After making loan payments on the debt incurred to buy the cab and paying for vehicle insurance, gas and maintenance, there’s often very little if anything left over for the owner to take home to his or her family.
The introduction of Uber will have a dire effect on taxi owners/drivers. Their volume of business will drop dramatically while their mortgage payments and other costs will remain a constant. Without the ability to continue servicing their debts, many will lose not only their taxi licence but they could even see their family homes foreclosed on.
In my books, that price is too high to pay for my improved convenience.