Uber cars are standard, despite bad press

Uber’s numerous benefits and aggressive business practices push taxi drivers to compete.

Brooke Bovee

If you’ve noticed a group of students piling into a nice black car on a Friday night in Dinkytown, you’ve likely seen the use of an Uber car.

The Uber app uses your phone’s GPS to find where the company’s drivers could pick you up. This is helpful if you have no idea where you are on campus. You’re also able to stay safely in your location instead of waiting alone on the cold curbside in the dark.

On your phone, you can see where your Uber car is on its way to get you, and you’ll get a text when the driver arrives. Everything is all on the app, and you can hook up your credit card to pay. You can even split the cost of the trip with others if you’d like.

Uber has promoted its company around campus by passing out coupons that offer a discount on your first ride. A common perception is that using an Uber car is nicer, cleaner and less expensive than taking a taxi.

During my own experience with Uber, the black SUV I rode in still had its new car smell.

However, the driver was unfamiliar with the campus area. My ride was cheaper than calling a taxi with their coupon, but the price depends on what city you’re in and whether there is a ton of traffic. According to Business Insider, a taxi is cheaper in heavy traffic because Uber in Minnesota charges per mile and per minute whether you’re moving or not. Taxis charge per minute when idle and per mile when moving.

Uber has frequently made headlines for several controversies. Most recently, Emil Michael, Uber’s senior vice president, was overheard saying he wanted to spend money to hire journalists who could help fight Uber’s negative press by digging up information on other journalists.

Uber has constantly received negative media attention, but the company continues to prosper. This may be because it has set a new standard for ride services. It has become a threat to well-established taxi companies. Uber encourages you to “step it up when you step out for a big night”. This implies that you can use Uber to impress your date or “treat yourself” without much cost.

One major problem yet to be addressed is that Uber poses a threat to safety.

Unfortunately, Uber has had reports of alleged abductions and fraudulent business practices. Although abduction is also possible in a traditional taxi cab, Uber is not held to the same regulations as taxi companies. For example, although Uber conducts background checks on its drivers, taxi companies more heavily regulate their
employees.

We should hold Uber to the same strict regulations — like licensing and vehicle inspection — as established taxi services. Uber is essentially providing the same services, and regulation would help make rides safer for everyone.

Despite all of the bad press, if established taxi services don’t step up their game by providing other benefits — like a text upon arrival, a GPS tracker, coupons or simply cleaner vehicles — yellow taxis will become a thing of the past.