Atlanta and New Orleans Mayors Pick Uber to Win in Fight with Traditional Taxis


a screenshot of Uber
Credit: davemutton / photo on flickr

DMVs and taxi unions nationwide have been attacking Uber over the past several months, accusing the peer-to-peer ridesharing service of being unsafe and unfair to the taxi business. The D.C. Taxi Operators Association held a protest in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, blocking the traffic downtown for a few hours. Virginia's DMV issued a cease-and-desist letter to Uber and Lyft earlier this month, and has ticketed five Uber drivers since then. Protests against Uber have swept European countries in recent weeks. Despite this widespread opposition, some notable public officials have voiced their support for Uber and think that the innovative business will eventually win the battle against taxis.

Kasim Reed, the mayor of Atlanta, recently told Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic that though Uber might be in for a "15 round right" with the taxi industry, he thinks the company will eventually win. He also suggested that this doesn't necessarily mean traditional taxis will be completely phased out by the modernized ridesharing services, but they may just be forced to innovate to continue to compete. He said: 

"But in the interim, they're going to flat out fight it out, and mayors are going to be in the middle of it, because the taxicab industry is so old and staid and never had real competition, and now it's being forced to innovate."

The mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu, also thinks Uber will eventually win out in the battle against the antiquated taxi business: 

"I think at the end of the day Uber is going to win. I think that their technology model is superior. I think their political skills need some work, if I might."

The Washington Post reported that Chicago's department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection receives 12,000 complaints about taxis every year, which comes out to 33 a day. Uber has a built-in system to overcome these shortcomings and ensure accountability of its drivers—both the driver and the passenger are given a rating of 1 through 5 after every ride. If an Uber driver or a passenger gets out of line on too many occasions and gets low ratings, they are booted from the service. 

New York, like many other states, has had a long battle with Uber and the sharing economy. Despite this, the former commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, Janette Sadik-Khan, also told Friedersdorf that she was partial to innovative peer-to-peer services:

"I do think that the shared economy is here to stay. That train has left the station. It is happening."