First, the oped on the case for Uber:
Now there's a profusion of alternative ride-sharing companies such as Lyft, Sidecar and the best-known one, Uber. Uber's increasingly popular, least-expensive UberX service enlists thousands of owners of small, late-model cars to cruise the streets of 96 cities in the U.S. and abroad, waiting to be summoned through a smartphone app.
Amid the wave of controversy, two principles ought to drive the policy process going forward.
One is that any business that carries people for hire should be subject to some basic rules to protect the public. Under heavy pressure, Uber has increased insurance coverage, but its background checks look back just seven years, and it appears to accept the safety checks that apply only to personal vehicles rather than commercial ones.
The second is that more competition is better than less.
The USA Today also provided an opposing view. Here are two excerpts:
Uber, Lyft and other "ride sharing" companies are violating the laws and regulations that govern for-hire transportation everywhere they operate. In fact, ignoring the law is crucial to their success. They are competing unfairly with traditional taxi businesses that abide by the law, while endangering the jobs of thousands of small-business owners.
You, dear reader, should find it sickening that the hundreds of millions of dollars raised by these companies are being used to undermine small businesses. The profits from these investments are earned on the backs of an industry made up largely of immigrant drivers.
Uber and the like are simply not what they claim to be. They are not ride sharing, and they are de facto (unlicensed/uninsured) taxis. Calling them ride-sharing companies is simply misleading, because they don't "share" rides, but charge for them exactly as most taxis do.
1. The opposition to Uber here is typical. They're from the industry that wants to protect their higher wages. But they're claiming it's in the interest of the public safety and there should be licensing.
2. The opposition seems to ignore that the drivers of Uber cars are also "small businesses". So while it's true that they're trying to take market share away from traditional cabs, and in that sense "undermine small businesses", the same could be said for every other small business that's competing in the marketplace. The local Applebees seeks to undermine the mom-and-pop diner.
3. I disagree with the pro-Uber argument that " business that carries people for hire should be subject to some basic rules to protect the public". Let the marketplace decide. If some people want to take more risks but pay less, that's fine. People make those choices every day when they work construction jobs (instead of paying less, they "make more" to take a greater risk, but it's the same principle) or drive a car that isn't rated as the safest to save money.
I've also found it laughable (but sad) that taxicab drivers would get licenses in the first place. It's a case of crony capitalism. With a license, you can make more money, so politicians have more power (and often can be bribed). That, unfortunately, will likely mean many cities will ban Uber.