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 Message Boards » » Taxis Driver Suicides/Taxis vs Ridesharing Page [1]  
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Anyone done much research on this issue, and can link to something more scholarly in nature vs these types of articles below?

https://jalopnik.com/taxis-drivers-in-new-york-city-are-taking-their-own-liv-1826369292
https://www.npr.org/2018/02/10/584757778/taxi-drivers-face-financial-crisis

5/28/2018 7:32:31 PM

synapse
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I read the one drivers suicide note linked in that NRP article, and perhaps saying this is simply a taxi vs ridesharing service debate isn't completely accurate. In NYC at least there seemed to be existing issues before ridesharing showed up.

[Edited on May 28, 2018 at 7:40 PM. Reason : https://m.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1888367364808997&id=100009072541151]

5/28/2018 7:39:58 PM

LoneSnark
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When middle class people are forced to invest so much capital into tiny pieces of metal (Medallions) it can absolutely wipe them out when they later need to change professions.

There is value in maintaining the free flow of workers between industries. Excessive occupational licensing is harmful in general. The Medallion system is that on steroids. Perverse policies have very real consequences for people's lives.

5/28/2018 8:42:56 PM

LoneSnark
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A far better policy would have been to not limit the supply of Medallions. Allow the taxi workforce to grow, supplying taxi services to more areas (under-served minority areas, especially) and hopefully shifting the demand curves so New Yorkers use more taxis and fewer parking spaces. The increased supply would have also caused taxi wages to fall to match prevailing wages, although the diversion of workers to taxi drivers will drive up prevailing wages everywhere else. And then we wouldn't have this problem today of hard workers trapped in a dying business model loosing their life savings.

5/28/2018 9:14:35 PM

rjrumfel
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So a medallion is basically a license to operate a cab in NYC. I've never heard of this prior to your post synapse. And it sounds like the cost of a medallion is based on the taxi market at the time? Below is a pretty good NYT article that talks about medallions:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/10/nyregion/new-york-taxi-medallions-uber.html

It is a sad situation for all of those cab drivers, and I want to hate Uber, I really do, but it is hard for me because Uber is just progress. This is another example of an industry failing to read the tea leaves and see what is coming. This is no different that data center service providers losing all of their business to AWS, Azure, and O365. This is no different than the hardware industry being turned upside down by the big-box stores.

I do wonder how the taxi industry could have saved itself against Uber, and I don't have a good answer. Maybe come out with apps of their own that let them hail cabs? Maybe they have that now, I don't know. Maybe the regulators allowed too many cabs to operate?

It sounds like one solution here would be for the city to help buy out the medallions where people are under water on them, then allow those people to go drive for Uber themselves. As you guys are aware I'm not a huge fan of government assistance but it sounds like the government is part of the blame.

5/28/2018 9:15:24 PM

NeuseRvrRat
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the government is to blame, but only because they did what the taxi drivers wanted them to do. they concocted the medallion bullshit to protect themselves. now that the free market has come up with an end-around and their precious medallions are falling in value, they want to blame regulation.

5/28/2018 10:18:05 PM

Dentaldamn
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The idea around the medallion is fine. When the price balloons to 1.3 million dollars you start having problems.

[Edited on May 28, 2018 at 10:30 PM. Reason : Also our buddy Michael Cohen owns or owned quite a few of these things]

5/28/2018 10:28:54 PM

thegoodlife3
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it’s very easy to hate Uber

LYFT 4 LYFE

5/28/2018 11:53:44 PM

Dentaldamn
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Cabs have an app you can use to hail them in NYC. Also blacks car services have been in New York forever. I used to call them before Uber existed bc there weren’t a ton of cabs in Brooklyn in 2007-10. Now most black car guys also have an Uber, Lyft and Juno going.

5/29/2018 12:06:04 AM

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Quote :
"it’s very easy to hate Uber

LYFT 4 LYFE"


Any distinction between the two has very little to do with this thread.

5/29/2018 12:23:45 AM

LoneSnark
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Quote :
"It sounds like one solution here would be for the city to help buy out the medallions where people are under water on them, then allow those people to go drive for Uber themselves."

The solution is quite easy. Bankruptcy court will alleviate them of the huge debt they paid to buy their medallion. The issue is that leaves them starting their next career immediately after declaring bankruptcy and loosing all the savings they had built up in a decade or more of working, a problem they would not have had if medallions had not been a thing.

After-all, someone that Ubers for a decade then decides to change careers still has a car and can keep whatever earnings they decided to save. Not so today's Taxi drivers, who will have to turn over everything to the bankruptcy court.

But, to your suggestion that the government should buy them out (pay off the taxi-driver's debts) is absurd. Invariably, the money used to buy medallions was borrowed from rich people, because the banks would not lend money for such a thing (if I remember correctly). As such, yes, giving a million dollars to the taxi driver would allow the Taxi driver to walk away with his $50k retirement fund, but the vast majority of the money would go to some rich guy who is going to remain rich regardless.

So no. We should not tax the poor so some rich guys that made bad bets can get their money back.

[Edited on May 29, 2018 at 12:43 AM. Reason : .,.]

5/29/2018 12:35:42 AM

thegoodlife3
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Quote :
"and I want to hate Uber, I really do, but it is hard for me because Uber is just progress."

5/29/2018 12:35:47 AM

synapse
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^ This thread is about the ridesharing industry's impact on the legacy taxi industry, not rjrumple's simplification of the former into a single company, which you didn't quote.

5/29/2018 12:59:56 AM

thegoodlife3
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cool.

[Edited on May 29, 2018 at 1:03 AM. Reason : .]

5/29/2018 1:02:30 AM

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Quote :
"When middle class people are forced to invest so much capital into tiny pieces of metal (Medallions) it can absolutely wipe them out when they later need to change professions. "


From what I've read, not many individual purchaser/owner-operators of medallions are middle class. Most medallions are owned by rich folk who own taxi companies, not middle class people...and I'm not sure I see the application of your example of buying tiny pieces of metal for a profession outside of the legacy taxi industry, annnnnnd it's not about the metal as you depict but the permit it represents. From the NPR story, it seems like a lot of the purchaser/owner-operated uproar is based on these drivers counting on the sale of their medallion (which they may or may not fully own) as their retirement. They've been working for decades to pay off something that at this moment is worth less than they paid [or are paying] for. I'd like to learn otherwise, but the purchaser/owner-operated investments into these things seems pretty similar to stock market investments that historically go up, but are now going down, tragically, because it's often their entire financial future.

Quote :
"the government is to blame, but only because they did what the taxi drivers wanted them to do"


Can you link to that development NRR? Would like to learn more.

Quote :
"The idea around the medallion is fine. When the price balloons to 1.3 million dollars you start having problems."


How so? How was the inception of them, based on supply and demand, ok, but the price rising to said demand, not? I'm sure there are decent arguments for their issuance out there but I have not read them yet. Link me.

Quote :
"Cabs have an app you can use to hail them in NYC"


The game changer with ridesharing services isn't just having an app to hail rides, but baking in/requiring a superior customer experience via their rating systems versus being subject to whatever experience you get when hailing a rando cab on the curb or calling for a cab that might or might not show up. I'm sure some cab companies are/will further evolve but they're pretty far behind the ball at the moment.

Quote :
"trapped in a dying business model loosing their life saving"

Quote :
"that leaves them starting their next career immediately after declaring bankruptcy and loosing all the savings "


Plz. If your browser isn't screaming at you for using "loosing" you need to get a new browser.

5/29/2018 1:57:40 AM

NeuseRvrRat
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Just Google "taxi protectionism"

5/29/2018 6:26:18 AM

rjrumfel
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Not sure why you think my post was a simplification of the issue. I'm just citing Uber because I don't want to type out Uber and Lyft over and over again.

If everyone is really worried about the medallion system, and NYC taxi drivers specifically, then why not require Lyft and Uber drives to also purchase a medallion before they can operate in the city? Why does Uber get to operate outside of the bounds of the medallion system?

5/29/2018 8:29:42 AM

Dentaldamn
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Black car services have always operated outside of the medallion system.

5/29/2018 8:55:25 AM

NeuseRvrRat
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Reminds me of that video with the pissed off lamplighters petitioning to get rid of street lights. You're obsolete. You've been replaced. Get over it. Adapt.

5/29/2018 9:05:28 AM

rwoody
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^are they really obsolete? They've been "replaced" by the exact same service but one with owners willing to operate at a massive loss to eliminate competition. Those services also get to ignore many/all safety regulations.

Quote :
"Not sure why you think my post was a simplification of the issue. I'm just citing Uber because I don't want to type out Uber and Lyft over and over again."


I don't think he meant "simplification" as an insult, more like "generalization" or exactly what you said in the second sentence. I think synapse was agreeing with your "simplification" to stop TGL from arguing lyft vs uber ITT




[Edited on May 29, 2018 at 9:16 AM. Reason : E]

5/29/2018 9:13:05 AM

NeuseRvrRat
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Don't ask me, ask the free market. They feel they're safe enough.

5/29/2018 11:33:34 AM

Dentaldamn
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Quote :
"How so? How was the inception of them, based on supply and demand, ok, but the price rising to said demand, not? I'm sure there are decent arguments for their issuance out there but I have not read them yet. Link me."


From my understand the medallion system was set up bc there were too many cabs on the road and no one was making any money. I think this was in the 30's or 40's.

But medallions only limits the number of cabs, not the number of cab drivers. I think there are around 13k medallions and 40-50,000 cab drivers. Most medallions are owed by people who do not drive cabs (like Michael Cohen) and they let people the cabs for part of the profit. Multiple people could drive the same cab throughout a week.

For decades there have been black livery cars for hire throughout the city and in many areas, such as where I live, they used to be the only option. Cabs are rarely cruising around outside of Manhattan and when they are they get snatched up pretty fast or only drive on main busy roads back to manhattan.. Now all of those black cars just run all the apps as well as work with a livery car dispatcher. I still use these guys bc they have set rates to the airports and Lyft always fucks me when I go to long distances: http://www.arecibocc.com/.

I dont think Taxi's are obsolete in NYC. You can call them from the street, take you where you want and have fixed prices. Will medallions ever got back up over 1.3 million again? Probably not but in the grand scheme of things it doesn't really matter.

5/29/2018 12:48:30 PM

rwoody
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^^Bc the free market is inherently dumb. On the free market, corporations have no incentive to share enough information with the consumers to allow them to make informed decisions.

The free market thought cars without seat belts were safe enough

Taxis probably aren't as safe as they could be bc of lax regulation enforcement, but at least there is some system of checks

5/29/2018 1:22:00 PM

synapse
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Quote :
"Taxis probably aren't as safe as they could be bc of lax regulation enforcement, but at least there is some system of checks"


Ridesharing services have checks. How are the taxi services' checks better? The cars themselves get more checks? Is their level of driver screening superior to ridesharing services?

5/29/2018 2:18:21 PM

Dentaldamn
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You guys do not understand how NYC taxi's and car services work. Everyone is licensed by the city to drive anyone anywhere for money. You can not start up Uber and pick people up, you have to be licensed by the city.

https://www1.nyc.gov/nycbusiness/description/black-car-base-license

5/29/2018 2:23:17 PM

rwoody
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^, ^^ok I may be operating on outdated or poor info, at least in NYC.

5/29/2018 3:02:27 PM

Dentaldamn
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the entire "ridesharing" situation doesn't exist in NYC. You are still calling a licensed car, they just happen to be using an app provided by Uber/Lyft/Juno/Gett/whatever. Its not difficult to get your TLC license and there are still plenty of idiots driving around.

https://www.uber.com/drive/new-york/

the driverless car situation is going to really fuck everything up. Will you be able to hail a driverless car by raising your hand on the corner of 17th and 6th when you're late for a meeting and its raining?? Will this cause medallions to go back up? who knows!

[Edited on May 29, 2018 at 3:21 PM. Reason : edit]

5/29/2018 3:13:15 PM

darkone
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Quote :
"Will you be able to hail a driverless car by raising your hand on the corner of 17th and 6th when you're late for a meeting and its raining??"


Unlikely, because it's inefficient to just have the car ride around and look for fares. I supposed with demand prediction and swarm coordination they could make something like that work... The beauty of computer managed fleets is that you can hit the cab button on your phone from the lobby and have it pulling to the curb by the time you hit the street.

5/29/2018 5:47:19 PM

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Quote :
"the entire "ridesharing" situation doesn't exist in NYC"


Yes it does. The fact that they have to be licensed doesn't change the features/nature of the service.

5/29/2018 8:23:43 PM

Dentaldamn
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I disagree. Car services were in Nyc before Uber. Instead of calling a car I can now use an app. It’s the same guys driving the cars.

What has happened is more people in Manhattan use car services now as opposed to looking for a taxis. In the boroughs is was a reality that already existed bc taxi drivers are dricks and won’t drive to Brooklyn.

5/29/2018 10:57:48 PM

afripino
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the mob is mad they aren't getting their cut anymore.

5/30/2018 4:59:55 PM

LoneSnark
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sad point: I think the mob is still getting their cut. The cab drivers are just working for free.

6/1/2018 1:58:53 PM

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Quote :
". It’s the same guys driving the cars"


Operating under a completely different financial and service model.

[Edited on June 2, 2018 at 1:06 PM. Reason : It's great that you could call for a car prior to Uber/Lyft/etc but thats a different type of service]

6/2/2018 1:04:55 PM

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https://jalopnik.com/a-sixth-new-york-city-taxi-driver-has-committed-suicide-1826877827

6/16/2018 11:02:31 AM

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https://nypost.com/2018/10/06/uber-driver-who-jumped-in-front-of-train-was-deeply-in-debt/

10/8/2018 1:23:15 PM

rjrumfel
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I tend to agree that municipalities are partly to blame.

They didn't see these companies coming, and once they did, they couldn't react fast enough. And still aren't reacting.

Not the thread for it, but it does include the gig economy - these municipalities are also not responding to these damned scooter companies fast enough. People are going to start getting hurt on these things if something isn't done. I've seen pedestrians on sidewalks almost hit, I've seen idiots ride down the wrong way on a one way road, and I've nearly hit one blasting across the street out of nowhere.

I find it ludicrous that bikes can't ride on a sidewalk but these stupid scooters can.

10/8/2018 1:29:47 PM

synapse
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here ya go rj - message_topic.aspx?topic=649672&page=1#16505192

10/8/2018 2:27:02 PM

LoneSnark
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If they had it to do over again, New York should have set taxi rates by medallion prices. As medallion prices go up, taxi fares go down.

But, of course, political choice theory teaches us this was a captured industry, so they'd never do anything to jeopardize the bubble in medallion prices.

10/8/2018 4:22:03 PM

adultswim
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http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/12/will-uber-survive-the-next-decade.html

[Edited on December 7, 2018 at 11:25 AM. Reason : .]

12/7/2018 11:24:53 AM

LoneSnark
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Another example of the "mega-rich capitalist class" loosing their shirts to competition in a competitive market. This is the heart of Capitalism: capitalists loosing their investments while consumers prosper through lower prices. Thank you for bringing it to our attention

12/7/2018 4:18:17 PM

Bullet
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Quote :
"loosing"


Quote :
"loosing"

12/7/2018 4:30:27 PM

adultswim
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what? this is an example of the rich destroying an industry to replace it with something that is ultimately unsustainable, just by pumping money into it.

literal proof of the inefficiencies of capitalism. did you read the article?

[Edited on December 7, 2018 at 4:37 PM. Reason : .]

12/7/2018 4:37:06 PM

LoneSnark
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^^ thank you for the correction.

^ Destroying what industry? Like the article says, Uber is losing money because of stiff competition from competitors copying their model. This is what happens in a free market. And if Uber ceases operations in bankruptcy, there are dozens of competitors ready and eager to take its place. That is the beauty of Free Enterprise: One Firm is not the whole industry. Even the largest firm can fold due to incompetence or dumb luck, the industry will survive and prosper without them.

The workers and customers of the industry are profiting, which is the purpose of Capitalism. Nothing inefficient about that.

12/7/2018 11:48:19 PM

adultswim
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Quote :
"But, but, but — you may say — Uber has established a large business in cities over the world. Yes, it’s easy to get a lot of traffic by selling at a discount. Uber is subsidizing ride costs. Across all its businesses, Uber was providing services at only roughly 74 percent of their cost in its last quarter. Uber was selling its services at only roughly 64 percent of their cost in 2017, with a GAAP profit margin of negative 57 percent. As a reference point, in its worst four quarters, Amazon lost $1.4 billion on $2.8 billion in sales, for a negative margin of 50 percent. Amazon reacted by firing over 15 percent of its workers."


Quote :
"If Uber were to drive all competitors out of business in a local market and then jack up prices, customers would cut back on use. But more important, since barriers to entry in the taxi business are low, and Uber lowered them further by breaking local regulations, new players would come in under Uber’s new price umbrella. So Uber would have to drop its prices to meet those of these entrants or lose business.

Moreover, Uber is a high-cost provider. A fleet manager at a medium-scale Yellow Cab company can buy, maintain, and insure vehicles more efficiently than individual Uber drivers. In addition, transportation companies maintain tight central control of both total available capacity (vehicles and labor) and how that capacity is scheduled. Uber takes the polar opposite approach. It has no assets, and while it can offer incentives, it cannot control or schedule capacity."

12/7/2018 11:57:21 PM

synapse
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Quote :
" A fleet manager at a medium-scale Yellow Cab company can buy, maintain, and insure vehicles more efficiently than individual Uber drivers"


Except Software. Software. Software. That is where the local cab companies can't compete. Well and the business model you depict is dead.

That whole post reads like a weird pipe dream without a purpose.

12/8/2018 1:54:36 AM

adultswim
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Dead because Uber pumped billions of dollars of venture capital into a competing model that, 10 years later, is still far from being profitable. That's the point of the article.

Lonesnark says this is competition, but how? The services aren't competing at real market prices. Uber is subsidizing its price in order to force the taxi industry into collapse. They'll eventually need to raise prices in order to make a profit, and at that point they'll likely be more expensive than taxis were in the first place.

[Edited on December 8, 2018 at 10:23 AM. Reason : .]

12/8/2018 10:10:26 AM

LoneSnark
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LoL. If only businesses were able to raise prices "Just because they need to." That isn't how things work. As the article states very clearly, Uber has lots of competitors in the ridesharing market that are carrying along just fine right now. If Uber could charge more, they would. They're not losing money because they love their customers and want to give all their money away. They're losing money because Lyft and the other 9 such competitors in the same market are fierce competitors. If Uber decided they couldn't lose any more money and jacked up their prices to break even, they'd lose even more money as they'd soon find themselves with almost no customers at all.

Read your own article again. Under the rules up until now, Uber is kinda doomed to provide cheap transport to us at a loss forever. Their investors are hoping that the rules change in the future, and they certainly seem right to believe they will. Just as the big players in the Taxi industry eventually gained strong protections against competition from the government, it is sorta the nature of government that Uber will get similar protections.

Why, just recently New York just passed a "ridesharing driver minimum wage" that is a price floor by just another name. No doubt Uber's lawyers already know how to gently twist this law into a "only ridesharing companies big enough to afford the overhead" limit on competition. Get it down to the big three (taxis, Lyft, and Uber) and prices will rise enough to guaratee Uber plenty of profits.

12/10/2018 12:37:50 AM

aaronburro
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I also can't help but chuckle at the "Uber isn't running its service at real market rates!" line. Well, medallions weren't being sold at their real market value, either, and taxis weren't running at real market rates as well... I'm with LS: I highly doubt Uber is slashing prices and losing massive amounts of money, just for shits and giggles. They could raise their rates to whatever you feel is the "real market rate," and still be cheaper and better than NYC taxis.

12/10/2018 1:30:48 AM

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