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I'm sure you've heard of Uber. If you haven't, it's the modern replacement to the old traditional taxi service. Basically, you download an app. The app tells you where your nearest Uber taxi is and then you order it. In most cities, it's much cheaper than your local cabs and the Uber cabs are private cars driven by their owners. So, normal people can register themselves and their cars to the service and make some extra cash. Cool.
Or not so cool. Although the company has been estimated to be worth around $62.5 bn (Wikipedia), the numerous problems they're having all over the world are undoubtedly having a major impact on their business aspirations. These problems are about not paying taxes, not being licensed, not having formally trained drivers, taking business away from the traditional taxi establishment, passenger safety including sexual harassment and so on. The problems are so widespread that they've been banned in the whole of Spain, some cities in India and severely restricted in many other countries. They even have legal problems in their own city of San Francisco.
On the upside, Uber operates in around 300 cities around the world and is constantly growing it's services and looking into new areas of development. For example, the technology company has teamed up with Google to develop the next generation of cars; driverless cars. Also, they have many niche services such as UberMilitary for military families, UberChopper for helicopter rides, other services for balloon rides and luxury car chauffeur services and many more.
Now London seems to be next in line for a major Uber change. London's black cabs have been staging organised protests and have attempted to influence the political debate over Uber. This week, they failed to push forward new regulations that would have seriously damaged Uber’s operations in the capital. Other recommendations are still being considered by the mayor of London, Boris Johnson. These include the necessity for drivers to speak a good level of English and making it necessary that customers can complain to a real person not to a machine.
In this constantly changing world of technological advancement, I find it incredible that countries such as Spain would ban a business for “unfair competition” simply to protect their traditional taxi service. This means the government wants a monopoly on that market. Is a monopoly fair? Or is it only fair when it benefits them? With Uber, everyone benefits. The car owner, the client, the economy, the environment (because of the car sharing system) and even the government. Perhaps the only losers will be the antiquated taxi systems that most cities operate. This method is fast becoming obsolete so perhaps the real solution should be to change their method of operation and stop banning Uber around the world. At the same time they could also make improvements to the Uber experience by introducing regulations that will make Uber a better company.
What do you think? Should Uber be prevented from operating in your country? Why or why not?
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