Uber is an app that allows people to hire drivers to take them to where they want to get to. The aim of the business is to effectively undercut the various taxi firms around the world. It’s now emerged that their lobbying efforts are much larger than was previously thought though. So, what are they lobbying for? It’s thought that they’re trying to expand their ability to operate but is this a good or bad thing for us?
Uber would argue that they are trying to open up the market and offer more options to people who want to be driven around cities. They argue that they should be allowed to do this and that they’re just providing competition to existing taxi firms. But the taxi drivers certainly don’t see things this way. Taxi drivers in Paris went on strike last month and held up the city streets in protest against the rise of Uber in the city. And in France Uber are banned, yet they still continue to operate.
This is one of the problems. Even if Uber is not allowed to operate, they still go on doing it anyway. They’ve developed a very aggressive approach to getting their way. They have ignored local and national laws, breaking them at will. They don’t use a single lobbyist firm; they use 29 of them instead alongside 250 lobbyists. They are ramping up the pressure on governments to allow them to do what they like. But if they do what they like regardless of the law, does it matter if governments grant them permission or not?
It pays for all this lobbying power with the money it’s gained from investors and venture capitalists. Money shouldn’t be dictating policy though, and it certainly shouldn’t allow companies to break the law when they feel like it. There are some good points about the service that should be taken into consideration as well though. The service is used by lots of people, and they are generally happy with the service they get.
A lot of the big taxi companies do have too much control on the market. And, in some cases, when there’s no competition prices can rise, service can worsen, and customers can be left cold. The entry of Uber into the market, they would argue, brings some much-needed competition into the world of taxi driving. In some cities, Uber is now more popular than existing taxi firms. This goes to show how poor the service in the area was before Uber came along to pick things up.
There’s a huge debate going on about whether Uber is a force for good or bad. And that’s a debate that needs to continue because they’re a startup that aren’t going to go away anytime soon, however, much taxi firms might want them to. One of the big distinctions that need to be cleared up is whether Uber drivers are employees of the company or independent workers. This is where Uber might struggle to make a case for themselves, but it remains to be seen.