As of today, Uber, the ridesharing app popular in many large cities, has been told by the Public Service Commission that they are to cease and desist any business activity in South Carolina.
Uber is an app for IOS and Android that allows people in need of a ride to summon a registered driver for Uber, who will then take them to their destination. No cash is exchanged, as they pay through the app (the app is linked to a credit or debit card.) All Uber drivers must be registered, and the registration process includes a criminal background check, certification that the car they are using is in safe operating condition, and a check on the driver’s driving record. Users of Uber enjoy convenience of using an app to both pay for and summon their ride.
Taxi lobbies are putting enormous pressure on local and state governments to ban Uber. They face a serious threat from Uber, as Uber’s business model seeks to do what Napster and later iTunes did to your local record store. Much like Napster, Uber does have some legal flaws that can be used as ammunition for those who seek to fight against it. For example, most state and local governments require taxi’s and taxi driver’s to be licensed, including having a business license, having a special taxi license known as a “medallion.” Additionally, there are questions of insurance coverage for both the Uber driver and any passenger he picks up that have yet to be answered.
However, my guess is that all of these things will sort themselves out in the next several years, and Uber will be on side of innovation and progress. I believe that Unless taxi cabs can adapt, they may find themselves in the same category as the record store and Blockbuster video- a fond memory.