Tradition vs Technology: Uber and The Black Cab
It’s inevitable, as technology evolves our traditional culture and values are lost. Most entrepreneurs will embrace technology in a bid to remain on trend and support innovation, but is this always justifiable? In this months Tradition Vs Technology blog post, I take a look at the current battle between Californian-based taxi service app Uber and the Black Cab. The Uber app was created by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp in 2009 and enables users to book a taxi from almost any location (subject to there being a Uber driver in the vicinity) to a destination of your choice. The app uses GPS tracking to pinpoint distance covered and the time of the trip and then produces a final fare. The high court rejected that Uber’s mobile service does not represent a taximeter, which is the ‘charging’ mechanism granted exclusively to London’s Black Cabs, in return for them (Uber) meeting onerous restrictions and passing expensive tests to prove knowledge of London’s geography.
Sajid Javed, the business secretary, has set the stage for the latest battle in the cabinet as he did not support proposals from Transport for London (TfL) to restrict the way Uber operates or are to operate. Javed has said that tougher regulation would have a ‘dramatic detrimental impact’ on the customers seeking lower fares, he wants to see ‘consumers put first’.
Technology and its application is driving down prices and make competition where there was none before. Is this all good? Will the Black cab survive?
Yes, there is a place for technology, but in this specific case we know that the Black Cab; • Is safe • The drivers know where they are going, having trained with the ‘knowledge’ • Are regularly serviced • Are regulated and each driver registered • Have tight turning circles and disabled access
Uber is controversial as it opens up a new world of taxi service and the app allows this. TfL have been considering introducing and planning a new 5 minute waiting time between ordering a private hire vehicle and its arrival, in order to create a level playing field between the rival services. Of course, this does not improve the ride nor the fare for the user.
Traditionalists will opt for the Black Cab, those with technology and wishing to see a marketplace will endeavour to support Uber. At the moment there is no right nor wrong. It is a personal choice but without doubt the technology is making the black cab market change, it has to adapt. How? We shall find out in time as we can be sure there will be more visits to the High Court, more legal battles and while Uber may win, so might the unregulated mini cab firm!
Black Cabs do have their limitations (in respect of numbers of passengers and journey distance) and the legal rulings may open them up to be more adaptable with a wider service and of course, cheaper fares. As always technology is good but needs handling carefully and its introduction thought through in detail.
Next week I shall be talking about the ultimate luxury business model for entrepreneurs. In the meantime, please feel free to comment below and follow me on social media: Twitter – Facebook – LinkedIn.