The premise is simple, yet effective. Download an app to your iPhone or Android phone. Tell people you are needing a lift, and through Facebook’s peer review system you can get what is billed to be a safe and reliable lift from a stranger to your destination for a small donation bypassing the hassles of waiting for and paying exorbitant taxi rentals. ‘RideShare’ is the phenomenon and is supported by a slew of Apps aptly named Lyft, Sidecar, and Uber. However, one group is not too happy with the apps, and has called for them to be banned. You guessed it: taxi unions.
The idea of friendly door-to-door service between two random people might raise a few eyebrows here, but has caught on fire on the West Coast. This week, however, taxi drivers at San Francisco began performing citizen arrests to those who were offering rides and dropping people off at San Francisco’s Airport. The Airport authority also sent cease-and-desist letters to the aforementioned App Companies and arrested several drivers for trespassing.
Furthermore a union of San Francisco’s taxi drivers held a noon rally at San Francisco City Hall Tuesday to “keep taxis regulated and safe” and are calling for the end of ridesharing services. The rally was planned to draw attention to "unlicensed, uninspected, unregulated and underinsured taxis" that are "allowed to roam the streets, creating a public safety hazard, increased congestion, greenhouse gasses and unfair competition against law-abiding cab drivers."
"We’re not against innovation," said Barry Korengold, president of the San Francisco Cab Drivers Association. "We’re just against unfair competition. Everybody with a four-door car can now go be a taxi."
All three bay area companies saw significant boost after a public transport strike in San Francisco at the beginning of June. The strike saw hundreds of thousands of commuters stranded at home or having to drive on over congested roads.
Uber Technologies Inc. had 50 per cent more cars on the road than the previous week, while Side.Cr LLC’s Sidecar service saw a 40 per cent jump in rides, the companies said. Flywheel Software Inc. was broke records after forewarning drivers that there would be a strike of the public transit system. The rideshare story forewarns businesses that specialize in Apps that your biggest enemy might be an entity other than your biggest App competitor.