Uber versus metered taxis

By Staff Writer
According to Uber, there are plans to extend the company's app-based taxi service to include metered taxis.
 
In the past few weeks there have been protests by metered taxi drivers, such as by the Western Cape Metered Taxi Council, who are calling for Uber to be shut down.
 
A spokesperson for Uber said: "Any time you have a disruptive technology like Uber coming into an industry, you inevitably have some resistance. Although there are some taxi operators who have expressed concern at Uber's entry into the market, there are far more operators who have already partnered with Uber as a means of growing their business which will bring all the consumer, partner and transparency-related benefits to the current metered taxi market."
 
Regulations
 
As Uber, and similar apps are so new, these technologies do not always comply with current regulations. In some cases it is unclear what regulations should be adhered to. Uber is trying to comply with the requirements for a metered taxi permit in the Western Cape, which will allow the drivers to operate their vehicles without a problem. According to some taxi drivers, the Uber drivers are illegal as they do not have metered taxi permits.
 
In January, several Uber cars were impounded for not having the correct permits and documentation. For more information click here.
 
However, according to Uber, their safety standards meet the grade. "Uber is so new and innovative, many regulators are playing catch-up with such products. What is behind regulation is public safety which is where Uber goes above and beyond. Uber is the gold-standard when it comes to safety features. Our innovative technology means we're streets ahead of our rivals on safety. Riders can track their route, see their driver before they get in the car, and let friends know when they're likely to arrive."
 
The spokesperson added: "Uber's technology is a clear example of innovation leading regulation given that laws were drafted at a time when technology did not exist - which means there is no clear category. After a number of constructive meetings with the City [of Cape Town], we do have a short term solution to licensing but we remain committed to continuing the conversation on a city, provincial and national level towards defining a clearer category for Uber and route to licensing for our partner-drivers, as we help shape the future of mobility in the safest way possible."
 
Incorporating metered taxis
 
The Uber spokesperson explained: "Uber's technology is open and pro-choice and we are keen to offer it to a broad number of taxi drivers to boost their occupancy rates and chances for profit. [Although] there are some operators who have expressed concern about Uber's entry into the marketplace - there are many operators who are working with us to further grow their business."
 
Uber stressed that it is not trying to take business away from existing taxi operators, but rather to open the market to allow more players to enter. Metered taxi operators already have the choice to partner with Uber, with several existing transport operators already making use of the Uber system.
 
In a recent article, David Drummond, deputy chairman of the Western Cape Metered Taxi Council said that the council did not have a problem with the Uber app, but rather that the drivers were operating without the correct documentation, and the way in which these services are being used.
 
"If it was used in conjunction with metered taxis, only then would be not have a problem [with the Uber application]," added Drummond.
 
Healthy competition
 
Uber believes that by opening up the market to more players, it will improve the safety and service offered by operators, as they try to compete with each other for business.
 
"Competition is also good and it offers more choice to customers, improves safety and service, and encourages innovation. We love choice. We love competition. We love that other people are trying to compete with us," said Uber.

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