Disruptive business models are hard because they challenge entrenched majorities who are often capable of regulatory backlash against new models of doing business that are more efficient and creative. Uber, the internet-dispatched creative car service, has had a rough couple of days. The trouble began on Wednesday, when the DC Taxi Commission chairman said that they were operating illegally. Their argument is that car services must operate on a time basis, instead of a mileage-based service like a taxi.
Today, according to DCist’s Benjamin Freed, Chairman of the Commission’s Ron Linton conducted a sting operation against of one of the drivers that contracts with the Uber service, that ended with the driver issued a citation, and his vehicle towed and impounded.
While I would absolutely expect taxi drivers to fight back against a perceived loss of business, Uber says they’re operating legally, based on the results of their internal code examination, and their attorneys findings. The DCTC is going for a pressure point: the limousine drivers that contract with Uber for additional funds.
Taxi service in this town, frankly, is abysmal. I live in a part of town where getting a cab takes an extra hour and costs an extra $5 to your base fare, let alone knows where he’s going. A car service is a fairly expensive, and hard to arrange unless you know where you’re going a few days in advance. Uber bridges the gap nicely between the two, and adds a level of convenience that even the taxis in the city can’t manage.
If you want to fight back, the DCTC answers to the Mayor. Mayor Gray’s office can be reached at (202) 727-6300, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.