Lyft and Uber are having their way with local media and politicos in Madison Wisconsin. The fight among these self titled TNC (Transportation Network Companies), local Taxi companies, the bureaucracy and local political officials has escalated and become more heated than anything Lyft and Uber have generated in other communities they have forced their brands into.
Madison Wisconsin is a particularly unique city when it comes to Taxi regulations. Unlike most cities, Madison does not limit the number of cab companies that may operate or the number of vehicles that company uses.
Madison does not have a medallion system which is typically the reason many large cities endure the hardships of Taxi cartels and their corruptive nature.
Madison only requires each cab company to follow a very minimal set of ordinances and pay what are the countries lowest annual and individual fees.
This reflects in the pricing offered by Madison’s Taxi companies being lower than anything Lyft or Uber offer.
But if you look at Local publications and the legislation being proposed by some of Madison’s top local leaders, local cab companies are no better than evil corporations bent on total conquest and manipulation of the market.
Media manipulation and political pandering are nothing new to the Uber and Lyft set.
The Lie of the “Ride Share”
Madison also has something else that is very uncommon in most cities and something Lyft and Uber DO NOT have, Two actual LEGAL ride share companies, one of which that has been operating for over 50 years.
When Uber and Lyft claim they are “Ride share” companies, they are actually hijacking a term of service coined by Badger cab of Madison back in 1946. “Ride Share” or “Shared Ride” service originally meant that the cab company operates each of its vehicles as car pool taxis at a much lower fare rate than standard point to point taxi service which is often very expensive.
On a ride share system, the customer can option to share the vehicle with other customers along a direct route all of the customers are traveling along. This reduces the price of the fare while also making the operation of the vehicle much more efficient and Eco-freindly.
Customers are also offered the option not to share the cab, in which case the fare is still reasonably lower that standard taxi services because the shared ride vehicle will be performing service near the pickup and drop off point for the direct ride customer.
Lyft and Uber do not offer ride share service in it’s original or even economical definition.
A Lyft or Uber driver, using these applications to arrange rides is forced to pick up and deliver customers from one point to another with no arrangement for another customer there after or during.
Because Uber and Lyft do not offer service to the majority of any city area, they operate in, this means they must drive back to their preferred pick up area to acquire another customer. This means burning more gas and putting more wear on the vehicle while providing no service and making no money.
This is why Lyft and Uber’s claims of providing “Shared Ride” service as some new form of transportation innovation are one morbid half truth among many of the disingenuous claims these companies make to the public.
Lyft and Uber’s insurance scam
I am surprised that the federal government hasn’t prosecuted Lyft and Uber for this.
Sofia’s younger brother and mother were also struck and injured during the incident.
It was later found that the driver was convicted of reckless driving in 2004. Something Uber would have known if they weren’t using a cheap third party background check service.
Just three weeks later, a Lyft driver struck and injured an elderly woman.
These are just two of the most severe cases between the two companies to date.
To date neither Lyft or Uber have compensated the victims or the families of those killed.
If either of these incidents had occurred with a driver for a properly insured cab company, insurance would have covered the incident.
Because the drivers with Lyft and uber had not told their own insurance providers that they were performing commercial transportation with their vehicles and because Lyft and Uber put numerous loopholes in their contracting to separate themselves from liability, no insurance coverage was ever legally in place at the time of the incidents.
An insurance company has every right to deny coverage when a driver on a policy with that company lies about the status of their vehicle or what exactly they are doing with that vehicle.
This means that compensation for these incidents is now the domain of the victims, the drivers own pockets and the Tax payers.
Discrimination, ignorance and racism
Madison Wisconsin also has something that is not uncommon in the Midwest. I large divide between social and racial classes through out it’s communities.
However for the amount of depressed economics you may find in a community like Allied drive or Badger road, considered by many frightened middle and upper class whites in Madison to be “bad neighborhoods”, the amount of actual crime in these areas is almost negligible for a city the size of Madison.
Still, Uber and Lyft have made clear and even PUBLIC statements to Madison’s city council that they can and will refuse service to these areas.
This is something that violates Madison’s city ordinance concerning taxi service.
Not to mention being profoundly selective and discriminatory in nature.
It isn’t just race or finances that play a part in why Uber and Lyft will not service communities like allied drive or Badger Road though.
At the end of the day, it is simply cold, hard, cash.
These areas are very far from downtown Madison. Uber and Lyft drivers see that and the financial state of these neighborhoods as a liability.
Unfortunately this model of doing business establishes not only a discriminatory basis for doing any business but inevitably it breaks down the amount of money that the driver can potentially make over time as more uninsured drivers use the Uber or Lyft service to connect rides.
Not to mention slashing through the amount of available work for LEGAL cab drivers.
If companies like Uber and Lyft grow and put their legal competitors out of business, they will inevitably decimate cab services all together. Because they only operate in certain areas based on the busiest time of day, the financial stability of the area and the color of the customer’s skin, this would eliminate services to nearly 80% of the geographical area of a city like Madison Wisconsin.
Most potential customers who are white enough would only be able to get a ride for six to ten hours out of an entire day and they would have to be in one of the very limited areas of access for pick up.
What Uber and Lyft have to say
I figured that I should actually get the Lyft and uber ride experience in for myself and hear how the public in Madison has dealt with them so far.
Here is how those rides went:
A few weeks ago a Madison motorist noticed a Lyft car operating illegally by the Public Library in Madison and he decided to snap a few pics.
The Lyft driver had a very uniform response when he noticed he was being photographed:
What are they thinking?
Nationally, the landscape for the future of these companies has become very bleak lately.
Recently Arizona’s governor flat out banned them from operations. They have mounting lawsuits in Ohio andCalifornia.
Illinois, Minnesota, Washington and Florida have also joined the recent rash of state wide sanctions and public outcry against Uber and Lyft.
Lyft and Uber are well funded companies with a lot of very wealthy investors backing them.
This begs the question, what is the motivation in their continuing to do business in this way when faced with mounting legal and operations costs that threaten to very quickly over shoot their projected annual income?
The problems they are having with insurance and regulations are simple fixes if they were to apply not even a fraction of the current income and financing they have received in just this last year alone.
To assume they have not thought of or planned for contingencies to these events would mean either their CEOs had no idea how to operate a commercial transportation service or they did know and this series of collateral damages is just another tactic to expand their product or diverge into another realm of this or another product.
I have a feeling the answer is going to be disappointing.
Lyft and uber have not yet done anything new or innovating outside of getting drivers too lazy and inexperienced to work for a real cab company to a customer in under ten minuets. However their methods for accomplishing this not only endanger and defraud the public but also those who have been roped into driving for them.