• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

In defence of Uber: Three reasons it beats taxis

The Local · 9 Sep 2014, 17:48

Published: 09 Sep 2014 17:48 GMT+02:00

I live in Berlin and I use Uber about three times a week, as well as when I'm on business trips in New York or Washington, D.C.

Uber is a smartphone app that shows you available cars in your area on a map. If you want a ride, the app sends a car to the front of your apartment, the airport or a bar.

You can choose from two options: Uber Pop and Uber Black. Uber Pop offers rides by allowing private drivers to pick up passengers and take them to their desired destination for 20-25 percent less than the price of a Berlin cab.

Uber Black offers professional limo services in fancy cars and in-car amenities at the price of an ordinary taxi.

The driver takes you to your destination and upon arrival you don't have to worry about paying - Uber charges your credit card directly through the app. After your ride, Uber emails you the receipt and you can rate the driver and provide feedback on how good that particular ride was.

There are three major reasons why I prefer Uber to a regular taxi:

1 - Price: Uber Pop offers urban rides at a great price, cheaper than legacy taxis by at least 20 percent.

If you're with a group you might even save compared to public transit. This is the true spirit of the sharing economy, which includes things like bike sharing, car sharing and companies like Airbnb.

Uber Pop could even reduce drunk driving for those who normally choose to drive drunk rather than pay a high taxi fare.

2 - Convenience: Uber is convenient; it's easy to use and to pay with credit card.

You can even split the fare with other passengers.  Credit card payment is a game-changer for me since I've been frustrated several times because of taxis that don't offer the option or whose machines malfunction.

The receipt is emailed to you and that is a great relief to my receipt-stuffed wallet.  I would probably use Uber even more often if they would be allowed to be on standby at airports the way taxis can.

3 - Quality and Safety: You can get a really nice ride in a fancy car and the app knows where you are and who is driving you.

If you use Uber Black, the driver opens the door for you, lets you choose the music and offers small snacks and water. The app always knows where you are and who is driving you, which helps to protect you from drivers behaving aggressively for any reason.

Cheaper rides also means greater access for more people, which leads to a larger market for these rides and more jobs for additional drivers.

The taxi lobby often says that Uber destroys jobs, but actually the opposite is happening: more people can afford rides and thus the market grows.

A Frankfurt court decision in August banned Uber across Germany. Instead of complying, Uber is engaging in civil disobedience by continuing to offer their services even though they face fines of up to €250,000 per ride and their German director could be jailed.

Uber is not only innovative and economically disruptive, they also have a no-fear approach that I admire.

The taxi lobby wants Uber to comply with Berlin taxi rules. Having used the unregulated Uber Berlin product for the last 18 months, I have to say that it might be time to totally deregulate and liberalize urban rides.

Story continues below…

Knowing every street in a city of 3.4 million people is nearly impossible and indeed unnecessary at a time when every car has a GPS system.

Many taxi drivers actually fail to comply with their own standards by not knowing streets, taking detours, sleeping too little or even lacking basic driving skills.

The reluctance of most Berlin taxis to accept non-cash payments is another illustration that the industry wants to be protected by laws and is not interested in adapting their model to modern times.

Berlin wants to be a global hub for startup companies and innovation but at the same time the city makes it nearly impossible for disruptive businesses to offer their services.

Hopefully the Berlin and federal government will realize that regulation needs to adapt to the 21st century instead of forcing businesses and consumers to comply with outdated rules.

Frederick Roeder is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications with Students For Liberty, a global libertarian student organization based in Washington, D.C.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Deutsche Bahn jacks up prices for first time in 3 years
Photo: DPA

Germany's main rail provider, the state-owned Deutsche Bahn (DB), announced on Friday that it will raise prices on long-distance train travel.

Baby found alive in suitcase with skeleton in Hanover
File photo: DPA.

A baby has been found alive, along with the skeleton of another infant inside of a suitcase in Hanover, police reported on Friday.

Morocco to speed up repatriation of illegal migrants
Photo: DPA

Morocco has agreed to streamline the procedures for the repatriation of citizens living illegally in Germany, the royal court said late on Thursday.

890,000 refugees arrived in Germany last year - not 1.1m
Photo: DPA

Previous reports had suggested that around 1.1 million people entered Germany to seek asylum last year. But now the German government has confirmed the number was actually lower.

Racist attacks cast cloud over Dresden Unity Day planning
A police vehicle in Dresden. Photo: DPA.

As Dresden prepares to host Germany’s national Unity Day celebrations on Monday, the capital of the eastern state of Saxony is upping security after a mosque was targeted by a homemade bomb.

Sinking Deutsche Bank stock sends shock across Europe
Photo: DPA

Shares in Germany's biggest lender Deutsche Bank plummeted on the Frankfurt stock market on Friday, dragging other European banks and global markets down with it, after reports some customers were pulling money out.

The Local List
10 things you never knew about German reunification
Reunification celebrations in Hanover in 2014. Photo: DPA

With German Unity Day (October 3rd) happening on Monday, Germans are looking forward to a three-day weekend. But did you know these facts about reunification and German Unity Day?

Munich pharmacy’s nighttime porno show draws crowd
Photo: DPA

When a police patrol in Munich's Sendlinger Tor area noticed a crowd gathered outside a pharmacy window they went to investigate. But the onlookers weren't interested in a new line of flu medicine.

Small town mayor beaten up for plan to house refugees
File photo: DPA.

The mayor of the small northern town of Oersdorf, Schleswig-Holstein, was beaten up by an as yet unknown person, police reported on Friday, seemingly because of plans to provide a home for refugees.

Fire at major Ruhr area hospital kills at least two
The fire in Bochum. Photo: DPA

Tragedy struck the western German town of Bochum on Friday morning when a huge fire broke out in a hospital in Bochum, killing at least two people.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
Lifestyle
10 German films you have to watch before you die
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
Lifestyle
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
National
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
6,582
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd