The past week saw 5 citations given to Lyft drivers and an additional 5 issued to Uber drivers in an attempt by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to crack down after ordering the San-Francisco based ride-share app companies to stop all operations in Allegheny County on July 2nd. The companies have gained ground in urban areas around the country by creating apps that connect passengers with drivers of personal vehicles who are approved by the company. Uber generally plays the luxury role by using drivers with high-end black cars, and Lyft plays the more affordable company, although Uber has started an UberX service that provides more affordable rides in cheaper vehicles.
You won’t see them leaving the city anytime soon, despite the citations and court orders against them. Both Uber and Lyft have vowed to defend their Pittsburgh drivers and pay off any fines to them. You won’t see too many complaints from the average city-dweller about their staying either, as they have provided a legitimate challenge to yellow taxicabs, which have operated for decades without serious competition. The lack of competition is due, in large part, to a strict and long list of regulations to registering a taxi service.
The argument is now over whether companies like Uber and Lyft put their drivers through a thorough enough of a background check. Yellow cab supporters have argued that companies like these put their drivers through less training, use cheaper background checks from private companies, and have less comprehensive insurance coverage than yellow cabs, making them less safe to ride in. Ride-share supporters will argue instead that these arguments are being pushed to scare citizens from leaving taxis and that taxi supporters are complaining about lack of regulation rather than adjusting to the changing industry.
Ridesharing has made it easier and quicker to get from point A to point B, since they can be hailed via a smartphone and can then have their progress be tracked via GPS. City officials are also happy with the higher quantity of drivers available, especially on busy weekends like the Fourth of July, through which Uber and Lyft operated despite the cease and desist letters they had just received. Pittsburgh mayor, Bill Peduto is currently pushing for their approval, saying that the increase in drivers would lower the amount of drunk driving in city.
Companies like Uber may be hard to stop in the long run as they are growing in presence and capital. They are now operating in 128 cities around the world and are valued at $18 billion dollars, just four years after starting up in they Bay Area. So far, there are also over 30 investors in the company, and among them are Google Ventures and Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. Unfortunately, those looking to buy Uber stock won’t get to anytime soon. Said CEO, Travis Kalanick, “Going public is not on our minds, and we don’t have any plans to do it.” For now, we may all just have to settle for more efficient rides.