Published on June 20th, 2014 | by Andrew Meggison


Uber Transportation App Now In 38 Countries, Backlash Growing

June 20th, 2014 by  

Originally published on Gas2.


Transportation app Uber is now available in 38 countries, has a market value of over $18 billion, and thanks to a recent wave of European protests, signups for the car service are up 850%. It seems a plan to disrupt commuter cab drivers in London, Paris, Berlin, and Madrid backfired in a big way for the angry cabbies.

Uber is a car service that his handled completely through your smart phone. The app shows you where Uber drivers are in location to your area, you select a car and they come and pick you up. Cars range of a yellow taxi to black luxury cars/ SUVs to Uber X – cars that in my experience are young adults driving their own car and picking up fares on the weekend. And yes, living in Boston I use Uber a lot – almost every weekend, and I think the service is great.

Why great? Well for one thing there is no cash transaction because everything is handed through a credit or debit card linked to your account on the app. Not only is this convenient, but it is safer too. Speaking of safety, Uber sends you information about the driver who is picking you up, name of the driver and such. Not only is this information  safe and helpful for the passenger, but the driver knows who they are picking up too. Additionally you can rate your driver. If a driver receives bad ranking continuously, Uber will let that driver go from the program. Conversely, the driver can rate the passenger, and so if you get a poor ranking for being a jerk in the back seat all the time no one will pick you up.

The company is forward thinking too, having invested in Google’s GX3200 vehicles and electric vehicles and also has a good sense of humor. A recent promotion that has passengers being picked up in Optimus Prime from the Transformers (in vehicle mode of course).

While I (and many other city dwellers) think that Uber is great, not everyone does. Traditional medallion carrying taxi cab drivers have been in an uproar about Uber in Europe and North America, with their argument being that Uber drivers are unlicensed or unregulated cabs, and therefore not legal in many cities. In London for example, only London black cabs are allowed to use the meter system to collect fairs.

Uber cabs use a meter system that is similar to the black cab system, and thus, London black cab drivers see this unregulated car service taking money out of their regulated business. Add to this that Uber cabs are usually less expensive than traditional city cab rates, and it is easy to see why the cab industry might be upset. Uber is counter arguing that their service is a private hire car service, and so is outside the scope of the meter regulations. So far, Uber has been fighting a running battle with governments across the world, though the recent wave of protests only served to increase signups to the effect of 850%.

I think that the debate over Uber will not be decided in a court of law but rather by the market –simply, do people want the service? With a market value over $18 billion and signups for the car service up 850%, I would say the cab paying public has already answered with a resounding “Yes”!

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About the Author

Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor's Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master's Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison

  • TCFlood

    There should be a good market for apps for insurance companies to check all of these online-identified commercial Uber drivers to see if the company is insuring a given driver and what kind of (non-commercial) insurance they are carrying.

    I also hope the IRS is developing their own apps to check the bank accounts and tax statements of these drivers.

    It will be interesting to see the first time an Uber passenger is killed in an accident how the law suits accumulate.

  • SamuelRoby

    So this mass-scale FRAUD is expanding? How many more kidnapping will we see?
    How many more $$$$ millions will be taken away from municipal coffers across
    towns and cities all over the world – and taken to private oligarch offshore accounts?
    It’s an offshore private corporation, you know – that pays nothing for business permits to operate (yet, others are forced to pay for such – thus, municipal revenue), pays close to nothing in local taxes, refuses to follow regulations and refuses to pay
    regulatory fees. In short – this is PLUNDER and THEFT.

    Here is a recent case of Uber driver kidnapping a young woman who dared to use Uber’s “well-rated” driver:
    I personally experienced LOCKED DOORS and a ridesharing driver demanding a
    positive review before he let’s me go. What’s is this? A hostage-enabling offshore
    Technology is NOT a concern! There are HUNDREDS of apps that offer the
    same service, and BETTER. Many local transportation businesses are teaming
    up with local technology startups and are offering THEIR OWN(!) apps and
    their own websites that are better. Who talk about them??? No one.
    Shame that modern day journalism has been reduced to paid propaganda
    and advertising that is so disconnected from reality that it simply is absurd.

    • Bob_Wallace

      First, kill the allcaps.

      Second, you should have phoned the police on the door locker. Someone with that poor judgement needs to be on their radar.

    • Burnerjack

      Hundreds of apps are doing this? Not that I doubt you but, please, name 10.
      If only to give them some exposure.

    • Burnerjack

      So what stops you or someone else from giving a bad review after you exit?
      The credibility of this claim is strained in my mind.

  • No way

    I wonder how the taxi business is preparing for being out of jobs in 10-15 years time. No, not by Uber. Those kind of services come and go, popular for a while but not sustainable.
    What will kill the Taxi business is the driverless car. Taxidrivers will be the first ones to go. Then the truck drivers
    I hope they are prepared to be out of business because no protest in the world will change this.

    • In this techno future, I envision the confluence of driverless cars, pervasive gun ownership and tried and true bored teenaged boys – shooting the tires out of driverless cars. Of course in this deregulated future, Google-Uber won’t be able to do anything, since they successfully deregulated everything in the name of libertarianism. Of course our dear leader, the worshipful Jeff Bezos, won’t have any of this. He’ll order his squadron of Amazon drones to kill every male between the ages of 13 and 19. Except, of course those proudly sporting face computers, i.e. Amazon Four Eyes, formally Google Glass.

      • No way

        What have you been smoking?

        • Nothing. I moved from Colorado in 1992. Just after the ex petroleum geologist turned brew pub owner and before becoming governor of Colorado, his governorship, Hickenlooper.

        • Burnerjack

          Whatever it was, I suspect he got his money’s worth…

      • Burnerjack

        So bored teenage, gun packing boys will decide what’s what?

        • Isn’t this already happening? Isn’t the average age of both Silicon Valley CEOs and the recent spat of school shooters about 15 or so?

    • sol

      probably 25-35 years time. People will not be ready to replace these transportation(taxi, freight, etc) right away because there is a lot of things that need to be changed to accommodate it. These are infrastructure, capital, know-how to maintain the fleet, laws and regulations etc. So I think it will be first the golf carts, then forklifts, then private cars, then may be taxis and freight trucks.
      But Uber has nothing to do with it. Even google, say produces these cars, it will be only one of many domestic and international car makers that will produce them. We hear only about google, but if research, you learn that a lot of them are actively honing this technology. It will not be surprising if they all come out with it about the same time. Look at the electric car. Now its not just the GM that makes the volt.

      Uber is just a shady husling business that will claim anything to keep stealing from legal businesses. It will take cuts from donut, flower, delivery and taxi drivers and do anything else till the law catches up with it.

      • No way

        I know that Uber has nothing to do with that. And I definitely know about a lot of different driverless cars projects (and driverless trucks).

        The point was that taxi drivers will be out of business soon so if they complain this much about losing some customers then just imagine how they will try to fight a futile fight against driverless cars.

        • sol

          Taxi drivers will be pushed out of business by technology probably in 25-35 years, just like forklift operators, and truck drivers. But that time is not soon. A lot of taxi drivers will have retired by then if there is such thing for cabbies. why do we want to steal business from minimum wage no benefit workers? i am ambitious and aim higher, like amazon from garage sell to you know amazon, building unique business and making uncomfortable only those that can take the hit(bigger businesses than itself). Be careful what you wish for. Uber controlling your basic transportation service from far away setting prices, jacking them up and abusing the service providers is a much inferior substitution of what we already have.

      • Burnerjack

        The Illegal Immigrant Labor of Livery?

        • sol

          you are one of those people that will sling his/her problems on people beneath themselves. People like that will never find solutions to their problems because they are always aiming opposite to their problem.
          I am a cab driver and not an illegal immigrant and i know my city does not give cab license to illegal immigrants.
          so in short, you lying.

          • Burnerjack

            You missed my point entirely. Just as Illegal Immigrants work outside the law and get paid less, their employers can charge less. The law abiding employer cannot compete price wise because in following the law, they have to pay taxes, license fees, permit fees, etc.
            So too is Uber working outside the law, able to charge less, not pay taxes or other fees and putting law abiding workers and employers out of work, while not contributing to the tax base, hence, not contributing to the common good.
            I’m actually on YOUR side. Think harder. Think deeper. In short, THINK.

    • Burnerjack

      They need to review what the buggy whip guys did to cope…

  • dango-man

    The regulations that uber and taxi’s face should be the same as currently uber is undercutting taxi by avoiding that regulation and the costs. This will likely involve the regulations become less strict for metering in taxis but more on the uber individuals that taxi people and their vehicles.
    Also Uber are huge tax avoiders in the UK at least. So I recommended using any other form of transport so that your not supporting a greedy big business.

  • The blog Valleywag has been covering Uber for awhile. They tend to take a different perspective of the service and the company. I’ve never used them so I don’t have an opinion on their service.

    From a labor perspective, there is absolutely no reason why cab drivers working under the existing system shouldn’t be upset. Cap drivers in Chicago and most large cities are independent contractors to medallion owners and to cab companies like Yellow and Checker. They haven’t been employees since about the 1980s. This was the first round of deregulation under Reagan. About the time millennials were being born. Wages went down and prices went up. The difference was skimmed off by companies and independent purchasers of medallions. Taking advantage of workers, typically immigrants. Just like Uber is doing.

    Uber and other Silicon Valley tech companies like Airbnb, the off-the-books apartment subletting company, are not technical. These companies are internet businesses, not too dissimilar to the porn industry. But less honest. And don’t pay taxes. Fun fact: the entire internet data flow is about a third porn.

    Much of the Silicon Valley tech boom is based on the same phenomena as shale gas fracking, cryptocurrency, and credit default swaps – deregulation and BS.

    Another crazy nugget, Uber swooped up the former NYC taxi regulator to join the company (Gigaom is an embedded tech booster, btw):

    This is a perfect example of a revolving door. I don’t even think the outfit would be so brazen. Also, Uber seems really, really shady. Like the entire sharing economy. An economy only a helicopter mom of a 24 year “tech” worker could love.

    I’m reading more financial analysts, image consultants, and stock pumpers on Cleantechnica lately. Is this becoming a thing?

    • Matt

      While I don’t have a view on Uber. I do agree that Cleantechnica is seeing a lot of stock pushers lately.

    • Burnerjack

      While all of your points are valid, Checker, Yellow, Vetrans and others should have launched their own app. On the other hand, if Uber doesn’t need to have the same credentials as traditional cabbies, that is not only unfair, but also lays bare that all the fees and training are a scam and are unnecessary. The credibility of the government(s) if there is any left, is on the line in this regard.

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