Friday, January 9, 2015

Colombia's Self-Defeating Battle Against Uber

Which is an Uber car? The government order to 'immobilize' Uber vehicles is impossible to enforce.
It was probably inevitable that the arrival in Colombia of the taxi-type smartphone application Uber would generate protests - principally from traditional taxi drivers, who feel their business getting cut into.

The government responded to the taxi lobby the other day by authorizing police to 'immobilize' Uber
By putting more cars onto clogged roads,
Uber can worsen traffic congestion.
cars - an absurdity unless cops are psychic, since Uber vehicles carry no outside markings.

The cabbies' concerns are understandable, but their fight against technology is futile. If not Uber, then another vehicle sharing system will appear...and then another.

On the other hand, government concerns about vehicle safety, tax payments and driver training, are more legitimate. But distinguishing between Internet-based car-sharing and plain old car pooling will be difficult.

Speaking of car pooling, despite Bogotá's worsening traffic congestion, the city has never seriously promoted ride sharing, either by setting up a peer-to-peer ride-sharing program or by creating car pool lanes for vehicles with multiple passengers.

Bogotá policies to promote car-sharing have accomplished
nothing. But car-sharing apps could be a solution. 
The appearance of ride-sharing applications such as Uber is a great chance for Bogotá and other cities to reduce use of the single-passenger vehicle, which is the least efficient way to use road space.

Uber can worsen traffic congestion by luring more cars onto limited road space and drawing passengers from more efficient public transport. But it can also be positive, by reducing pressure to buy private cars.

By working with Uber-type applications rather than trying futilely to ban them, Colombia might have a chance to reduce traffic congestion.

But it can't do that by blocking change.
The owner of this 'public service vehicle' has a sticker announcing that he's not Uber to avoid police hassles.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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