The Ghost of Harry Chapin Haunts UberCab Like, Well, a Harry Chapin Song About Taxis in "Frisco"


You remember San Francisco, the Rice-a-Roni town with the Beatniks and Hippies and Harvey Milks waiting to be born? The powers that be have just gone Dan White on an interesting startup that is supposed to be exactly the kind of hip, cool Web 2.23 company that can only be found in the Bay Area:

Ubercab's mobile apps let users request a car service to pick them up wherever they are right now, and let users pay for that car service with their phones. The startup takes a cut of the money made by drivers to generate revenue….

The incumbent taxi industry's concerns about Ubercab include the following:

Ubercab operates much like a cab company but does not have a taxi license.
Its cars don't have insurance equivalent to taxis' insurance.
Ubercab may threaten taxi dispatchers' way of earning a living.
Limos in U.S. cities usually have to prebook an hour in advance, by law, while only licensed taxis can pick someone up right away but Ubercab picks people up right away (again without a taxi license).

Well, you can guess how this one's gonna end:

UberCab Inc. has been issued a cease and desist order from the SF Metro Transit Authority & the Public Utilities Commission of California. While we are looking into the issues raised, we believe that the service we offer is in compliance with the cited regulations.

UberCab is a first to market, cutting edge transportation technology and it must be recognized that the regulations from both city and state regulatory bodies have not been written with these innovations in mind. As such, we are happy to help educate the regulatory bodies on this new generation of technology and work closely with both agencies to ensure compliance and keep our service available for our truly Uber users and their drivers.

Read more here.

Hat tip: Scott Banister, who is an investor in Ubercab.

And now on to the main event, Bill Shatner tearing up "Taxi," a song about Frisco cabs—and so much more. Where were the bureaucrats to come down on this tune?