(WINDSOR, ON) — It seems any move by the private sector to create jobs here typically has some people frothing at the mouth. I can only imagine what the world would be like had people opposed refrigeration in support of the ice-cutting and shipping enterprises, or if petitioners protesting the shoe lace to protect buckle maker jobs were successful in the 1800s.
There’s a little hypocrisy at play in the uber-frustrating Uber debate, but the interesting thing about the market place, new ways of doing things are only successful because of dissatisfaction with the status quo and/or consumer demand.
Some claim that stopping Uber is about protecting jobs, but few bat an eye shopping in the US, loading up on cheap foreign-made products at a local big box store, or shopping online, disadvantaging locally owned retailers, their employees, and their investment; but attempt to eke out a living driving a car in the nation’s unemployment capital?
Others argue Uber needs to be regulated, citing the so-called price-gouging on New Year’s Eve as an example. This gouging had to be accepted three times by the user while other more affordable regulated choices, such as Vet’s Cab or Canadian Checker, were available.
If the wait time for traditional cab service was a deterrent, then perhaps regulations limiting the numbers of plates, and hence taxi’s, should be changed or scrapped altogether.
But this isn’t to say Uber is the alpha and omega either.
Sure, I save a couple of bucks each ride, but my experience thus far has been about 50-50; about the same as with taxi cabs.
One Uber driver took 20 minutes to arrive, despite being 8 minutes away, and didn’t know where the University of Windsor was. But, that’s happened with regulated cabs as well.
Another refused to pick me up because I had a boxed pizza that I was bringing home for dinner.
I texted a complaint to Uber who responded immediately and credited my Pay Pal account, another very attractive feature of Uber; no hassle of cards or fumbling for cash.
I exercised my choice to give my business to a taxi company that night.
That said, the City does have a bylaw on the books called the Public Vehicles Licensing Bylaw and the law must apply equally to all, and should have been updated sooner since Uber has been operating in Canada since 2012.
A taxicab is defined as, “a motor vehicle, other than a car-pool vehicle … hired for one specific trip for the transportation of one person or group of persons, with one fare or charge being collected …”
Does this mean when I pay a co-worker $5 to drive me to work, they’re illegally driving a taxicab?
If not, how does one differentiate this from car-pooling, which is undefined in the bylaw, or from the Uber service?
It could be the lawsuits Mayor Dilkens was hoping to avoid by being “proactive” could land on the city’s doorstep as happened in Toronto last year.
Where is that revised bylaw the mayor promised anyway?
Rather than having the city’s legal staff prepare it, council decided in November to hire a $30,000 consultant, as reported by Craig Pearson, on November 17, 2015.
Now, Windsor Police and bylaw enforcement officers are probably going to spend more time and money than in fines collected coming up with a plan to slap down Uber, and financially punish drivers under a bylaw Council publicly vowed to change.
Those fiscal conservatives on council really do crack me up sometimes.
Technological change comes with the good and the bad. We can resist and deny opportunities for everyone, or we can adapt with individual choice as the guide. Bylaws can be changed, and the government-sanctioned monopoly, known as the taxi industry, can either adapt to consumer demands or go the way of telephone monopolies.
For you or I, if the idea of using Uber is unappealing, for whatever reason, don’t use it, but it’s sanctimonious and hypocritical to deny someone else from doing so.
Deciding to invest money in any business is both a choice and a risk, and although some disagree, it isn’t the government’s job to regulate out of existence competition and choice.
If only the voice of reason had prevailed at council, people could continue to make a living without the threat of mounting fines or risking government sanctioned unemployment to avoid them.