Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Uber Cannot Deliver

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This has been one of my continuing personal campaigns – to try and persuade the gullible that Uber is not now, nor ever has been, viable.

If you are on Twitter you ought to be following Cory Doctorow ( @doctorow) for a vast number of reasons but not least for information like this

“The only reason it [Uber] exists is that the Saudi royals decreed that they would diversify their income, and gave Softbank an unlimited investment budget. Softbank backs companies that it thinks can monopolize a sector, allows them to lose money for years – decades! Softbank assigns its companies absurd, unsupportable valuations, in the hopes of scaring off competitors. If the monopoly rents never materialize, Softbank flogs the company to rubes who were wowed by those sky-high valuations. That’s the Uber story.”

I did not know that. The reason I left the BC Green Party was that then Leader Andrew Weaver’s very personal commitment to getting Uber service in Vancouver. He had been inconvenienced at YVR one evening waiting for a taxi. So he used his leverage to get the market in BC broken open after years of successful opposition to an idea even dafter than Site C – which Weaver also implicitly supported by propping up the NDP.

So Cory recommends you to follow Hubert Horan. “40 years of experience in the management and regulation of transportation companies (primarily airlines). Horan has no financial links with any urban car service industry competitors, investors or regulators, or any firms that work on behalf of industry participants.”

Here is but a short excerpt of what Horan has to say at the link given above:

“Nothing has happened to change the fact that after ten years, riders have always been fundamentally unwilling to pay prices that would cover Uber’s actual costs, that Uber was always less efficient than the traditional taxis it drove out of business, that its only “efficiency improvement” was to push driver compensation to minimum wage levels, and that its growth depended entirely on unsustainable predatory subsidies.

But if anyone still thought that Uber could somehow magically reverse its multi-billion dollar losses, the coronavirus should have put their fantasies totally to rest. The coronavirus has crushed the major drivers of urban car services demand, including business travel and discretionary urban entertainment (clubs, restaurants, etc.). Their customers remain highly concerned about the health risks of all forms of public transportation.”

If you are at all concerned about the future of transportation in our region – or any other – you really need to go read the rest of that. And add to that Uber Eats is now wrecking the business of restaurants that managed to get through the Covid19 shut down.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 10, 2020 at 7:29 pm

Posted in Transportation

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