A couple months ago, the city of Orlando decided to take on Uber and Lyft, seeing the ride-sharing services as a threat to the existing taxi services. The city said it was all about safety but of course, it was really all about money. Orlando has now issued final regulations, effective February 1, that may have a far reaching impact for other cities.
First, the city reduced the permit fee from $500 to $250. This applies to everyone, Uber and Lyft as well as taxi drivers. Background checks also were an issue. The city council agreed that a third party can perform this task. For some reason, a sticking point is that the city is asking for the names of the ride-sharing drivers but Uber says no. This seems a bit strange since the drivers will be required to have a permit and background check. In other words, the names of the drivers should already be known to the city.
Regardless, there was no greater fight than the regulation requiring Uber and Lyft to charge more than the taxi services. As I said before, there is no way this will be accepted. Well, the city backed down on this issue but still requires that the self-described tech companies must charge at least as much as the existing taxi fares.
Can the ride-sharing services survive with these rules? They certainly won’t like them but yes, they will still do very well for a few reasons, including:
- Ease of their services. A request is as simple as using an app vs calling a taxi company.
- You know when your driver will arrive.
- They accept credit cards and your trip is prepaid.
- Few drivers also receive tips.
- It is not an ugly taxi.
With a valuation now of $40 billion, Uber is not going away. On the contrary, a new $600 million investment by a Chinese firm means Uber will be looking to expand worldwide.