Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Uber: Urban Plague or Savior?

'No more illegality'. Taxi drivers march against Uber today.
There's no question that Uber, the ride sharing service, is bad for taxi companies and drivers, who staged protest marches today across Colombia. I've met many people, particularly tourists, who say that Uber rides are more comfortable and convenient than regular taxis.

'Uber out of Colombia. Taxi drivers are hungry.'
But Uber vehicles apparently don't have to pay the same taxes and comply with the same licensing requirements as do regular taxis, which is why transportation officials have called them outside the law, whereas communications officials say the technology is permitted.

But is Uber good or bad for  Bogotá? Studies about ride sharing apps' impact on traffic congestion in United States cities are contradictory. Some have found that the thousands of Uber vehicles cruising the streets worsen traffic jams and pollution and draw riders away from more efficient mass transit, such as buses and trains. In New York, the rise of Uber and other ride-sharing services has coincided with a decline in subway ridership. But other studies suggest that Uber reduces private vehicle use, and encourages more riders to use the same vehicle.

The impacts, however, might be different in Bogotá, where car ownership rates are much lower than
Not all taxis went on strike today.
These were working on Carrera Decima.
in North America. In Bogotá, Uber could help reduce the incentive to buy private cars, which are strangling the city.

In any case, fighting Uber and other sharing services, such as Air BnB, is like fighting the future. An effective car pooling program could reduce Bogotá's traffic jams, but the city has never succeeded in starting one. Ride sharing applications finally offer the opportunity to do just that.

Do ride-sharing services such as Uber worsen congestion?

Protesting taxi drivers march down Carrera Septima.

A taxi waves a Colombian flag.

'Uber is a (sexual) procurer in transport. Wherever it arrives, it prostitutes and corrupts.'
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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