Why I may never take a taxi again (Or Why Car2Go and Uber will win)
Getting around by bike is my typical transportation MO. And let’s face it bikes are awesome.
However, there are times a bike just seems sub-optimal so we are faced with the what-to-drive dilemma. I want to focus on what used to be my default means of going somewhere on my own: a cab. I have taken thousands of cabs all over the world. They are really good, fast, pretty cheap and work when you are drunk.
There are two new options on the scene in Vancouver: Car2Go and Uber. Car2Go has replaced 100% of my sober cab rides and the Uber threatens the remainder.
Car2Go is car sharing that is simply awesome (you can see all the details here). It allows you to get a car on the go (finding available cars and there location via Android or iOS app or web app). The transaction of getting into the car (security handled via wireless smart card transaction) is super low friction. And it is dirt cheap. Typical rides in downtown cost $2-4, with my most expensive ride to East Vancouver being $7. I figure this 60-75% cheaper than taxi and generally more convenient.
Uber is smartphone enabled private driver service. To get a car, you launch the application, pick your location and the driver is on the way. I tried this last night and my experience was not great. I use an Android phone and the “love” they have put into it seems to be lacking compared to the iOS version of their app. I had trouble closing out the transaction and by the time I got outside, my driver was gone with the next car 20 minutes away.
They still seem to be in pre/early launch mode so may be working out the kinks here. And I’ve heard about awesome experiences from others so will give it another go.
The interesting thing about Uber is that they radically change the economics for private drivers. Normally these drivers are idle for much of the day: they average 5 (yes 5) rides a day. With Uber, they allegedly get way more. So despite giving a cut of their revenue to Uber, their total revenues have gone way up.
The story here is, despite cabs being a good option and a deeply entrenched incumbent, they are going to get pressured by these two options which embrace technology and radically change the economics for the customer and, in the case of Uber, the driver of private car services. Uber, or similar technologies, at least holds the promise of making cab economics better by improving utilization and capacity rates for cabs. But Car2Go seems like a real game changer.