Has Ride-Sharing Crushed the Taxi Industry?

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In 2015, the ride-sharing industry exploded—that’s an incontrovertible fact. In 2012, these ride-hailing apps were only a blip on the radar of most ground transportation passengers. Over the past few years, however, these apps have gained popularity for their purported convenience, turning ride-sharing into a billion-dollar industry, much like the traditional livery transportation has been for decades.

Inevitably, the rapid growth of ride-sharing led many business analysts and other thought leaders to conclude that taxis were over—done, dead, finito. A flurry of think pieces and infographics rushed in to prove the point, and the trend continued into 2016, with HuffPost’s Business’s latest piece on the subject, titled “2015: The Year The Rideshare Industry Crushed The Taxi,” an article that serves up side-by-side comparisons of ride-sharing apps and the livery industry to support the claim that in 2015, ride-sharing officially rendered the traditional ground transportation industry obsolete.

Some of the information presented in the article and accompanying infographic is accurate. However, much of it is (unintentionally) misleading for ordinary folks who are unfamiliar with the realities of livery services like yellow medallion cabs as well as luxury car service. Let’s start the year off right by clearing up a few of the article’s most glaring inaccuracies.

Claim: Ride-sharing has upended the livery industry for good.

Sure, ride-sharing has shaken things up. But keep in mind that the industry has only been around for three years—it could very well fade into history as a fad, especially with governing bodies cracking down on the notoriously unregulated industry. And the article itself admits that the ground transportation industry “refuse[s] to be shaken.”

Plus, ground transportation companies are catching up to the mobile convenience of ride-sharing apps. NYC taxis plan to test e-hailing for yellow medallion cabs, and the Deem CarService platform (of which EmpireCLS is a part) offers real-time ride hailing, but guarantees that only National Limousine Association members will participate, ensuring a better and safer experience.

Claim: Ride-sharing is safer

This is patently untrue, in our opinion. The article goes so far as to quote Newsweek as saying that ride-sharing saves “hundreds of lives” per year. This claim is probably superficially true in that people who hail ride-share cabs are less likely to drive while intoxicated—a plus in anyone’s view. On the flip side, however, ride-sharing apps still present passenger safety issues that the livery industry has long since addressed.

Uber drivers do not have to be screened for safety, whereas the taxi industry requires that drivers uphold both a Passenger Bill of Rights and Driver Duty of Care. There are also legal issues present in the way ride-sharing apps conduct themselves: These apps are unregulated by the government, and driver safety records and insurance coverage are unavailable. You might not be driving drunk, but you also might be going from the frying pan into the fire.

Claim: Ride-sharing apps have better customer support

The article makes the bold claim that traditional ground transportation offers zero customer support, whereas ride-sharing apps are made to be customer service havens. As a luxury limo service operating everywhere from Denver to DC, we take issue with that. Excellent customer service is part and parcel of how we do business. And there’s enough evidence of ride-sharing apps not taking customer complaints about poor treatment or bad experiences to discredit the claim that they’re the better, more customer-centric option.

Despite the opinions of naysayers, it’s going to take a lot more than a few mobile apps to take down the taxi industry. Keep up with the latest industry news by visiting the EmpireCLS blog.

Photo via flickr

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