Uber has just arrived in Sheffield and brought with it a whole heap of controversy.
For those of you that aren’t yet familiar, Uber is a taxi service which operates entirely through an app. You “hail” a cab through the app, you set your departure point and destination through the app, and you even pay through the app!
Anger and Protests
Uber aims to make the whole process quicker, easier and more cost effective for both driver and passenger. So what’s the catch? The company has attracted criticism over the way it regulates its drivers, and traditional cab drivers claim that the method of hailing a taxi using the app is illegal. Taxi drivers are so angry about Uber in fact that a number of protests have been taking place with drivers in London choosing to block roads in objection, and more recently, violent protests breaking out in Paris. French Prime Minister François Hollande has condemned the violence in Paris, however has called for Uber to be made illegal and taken off of French streets. This is due to the fact that French UberPOP drivers are not subject to the same licencing and regulation requirements that UK drivers are, which could cause a number of safety and privacy issues.
What We Think
We have trialed Uber in Sheffield and, on the whole, had a great experience. We’ve very rarely had to wait, and only once had no Uber cabs been available (that said, it is still very early days and the service should improve). Uber is cheaper for passengers, however drivers actually have the opportunity to earn more than they would working for a traditional taxi firm.
In terms of safety, Uber is secure for both parties. As a passenger, you can see the driver’s profile picture before you are picked up as well as their name and licence plate number. You can also send your journey to a friend so they can track your journey progress. What’s more, all UK Uber drivers must be licenced and registered.
Uber is championed by their drivers. Passengers receive star ratings by drivers after they have travelled, meaning that if a potential customer’s rating is low, drivers are able to refuse them. As all cash transactions take place via the app, drivers don’t carry cash, meaning that robberies are avoided (there is nothing to steal)! One Uber driver we spoke to said that the primary reason for him transferring to Uber from traditional taxi driving was the safety aspect.
All Hail Uber!
Airbnb is a similar concept, whereby people are able to rent out beds, rooms or full houses and apartments to guests, acting as a hotel or a hostel. Again, similar criticisms, like those aimed at Uber, have been directed at Airbnb. Advancements in technology and the internet have not only allowed us to connect with each other much more easily, but have given power to individuals to customise our experiences and services, tailoring them to our exact needs.
Uber and Airbnb may not be here forever, but this is just the start of “Uberification”.