Yesterday with the news of a new Uber launch, this one called UberHOP, a commuter service of minivans and SUVs shepherding people from 4 downtown hotspots to the financial district at $5 a pop, I found myself in yet another social media spat. As so often happens with these things, the conversation went off in directions not exactly on point to the issue at hand. I swore at somebody, fairly quickly. Everybody eventually retreated into their familiar corners. Nothing much was solved.
Just for future arguments, let me state my Uber stance for quick reference:
- I’ve never suggested Uber anything be banned. I think it should be subject to the same kind of driver and car oversight the taxi industry faces in terms of insurance, safety, background checks, etc. Whether further regulation is required in terms of things like fare rates and passenger protocol or if we just open it wide like the wild west, leaving it to the market to decide seems to me to be the legislative battle ahead. If drastic changes for the industry are in store, I do think there must be some talk of compensation to those who’ve invested under previous terms and agreements, and played by the rules in place.
- As for UberHOP, have at it, yo. If you want and are able to pay $5 for the pleasure of a semi-private ride back-and-forth to work, it’s a free country. Ditto your fancy limousines, rickshaws and sedan chairs. Just don’t try convincing me such a service will contribute to improving public transit in general in the city. It won’t. Solving your problem does not solve the problem. Getting people who can afford $5 a trip around the city is not the problem the TTC faces at the moment.
Even the TTC could turn a profit if it had the luxury of only providing service along high demand routes. Unfortunately, that’s not how effective public transit works. I don’t know how much overlap between transit and Uber users there is in the neighbourhoods UberHOP is going to service but it’s not going to free up that much space for those still opting to use the King and Queen streetcars. A solution for some is not a solution for everyone.
- There are already on-the-books ways in which commuting from Liberty Village, Fort York, City Place and the Distillery District to the financial district could be improved during the morning and evening rush hours without charging more for it. A service like UberHOP helps us avoid addressing those possible solutions. In fact, by putting more vehicles on many of the same streets, competing for limited road space, UberHOP might contribute to making those commutes worse for more people. Time will tell, I guess.
- UberWhatever is not about sharing. It’s about profit-making. That’s fine. For some, that’s what makes the world go `round. Fair enough. Just stop trying to convince us it’s about anything else. It’s not.
— helpfully submitted by Cityslikr