during my time in philadelphia earlier this summer, i (reluctantly) had my first experience with ride-sharing.
watching the issue of ride-sharing regulation flair up in hawaii in the last couple of years and reading about lawsuits and stories about how ride-share drivers are treated by the “app” companies, i’d refused to use any of the services until i was comfortable there had been significant changes to how the drivers are treated.
so, in downtown philadelphia, late at night, with a couple of friends and no easy or inexpensive way back to our hotel, i reluctantly agreed to pitch-in on a lyft ride. it was a good experience. and ridiculously inexpensive; the 45-minute drive out to the hotel i think ended up costing something like $7 or $10 per person, including a generous tip. my only point for comparison is a $35 and 15-minute cab ride i took from the airport once, when my ride failed to appear….
this morning, while browsing emails and headlines looking for something to write about, i came access the article, there’s only one way to compete with uber. the author highlights a couple of upstart competitors in new york city that are attempting to compete with, or overtake, uber as the leading ride-share app in the area.
in the end, the conclusion made by the author, with which i completely agree is this: appeal to drivers, address their needs and concerns, and you’re bound to do well.
i have friends, family, and colleagues who won’t shop at walmart because of their poor treatment of employees, but don’t seem to think twice about how ride-share drivers are treated, generally not even considered employees. i find it baffling, frankly.
uber, claiming to be a technology company rather than a transportation or service company, wants to side-step regulations applied to taxi services and others. the problem with that argument is that without drivers, the company would have ceased to exist a long, long time ago. it’s an app company that provides a service through drivers who they refuse to consider employees, or pay a decent wage, or provide benefits, or pay taxes for. the drivers, the entire reason for uber’s success are independent contractors, some court decisions to the contrary.
there is substantial evidence that businesses that pay living wages, provide good benefits, and generally care for their employees, cannot only survive but thrive. the same can certainly be true for ride-sharing companies. you want to compete with uber and lyft? just treat your drivers like employees, like people with respect and dignity, and you’ll be successful at attracting not only the best drivers from your competitors, but also socially conscious customers, like me.
the lyft driver in philly was a nice guy, who drives for both uber and lyft, though he told us he prefers lyft because they pay slightly better.
i expect it’ll be a long while before i’m in a position again where using one of these services becomes necessary, but i really hope by then there’s an alternative to which i can feel good about giving my business.