As more people switch to Uber, the fight to rule the roads intensifies


by Meilan Steimle, Alex Wang, and Anjay Saklecha

Yellow cabs and buses are losing their hold on the transportation industry, both internationally and locally. As Uber expands internationally, it also provides a means of transportation for the Harker community.

Uber, a San Francisco-based startup, allows customers to order rides tailored to their schedules through a smartphone app, using crowd-sourced drivers and their cars. Providing approximately 30 million rides per month, Uber attempts to replace the traditional taxi industry and pull ahead of rival companies, such as Lyft. In San Francisco, Uber’s home city, taxi rides per month have dropped by over 65% from March of 2012 to July of 2014.

I think Uber is very efficient and it’s much better than a taxi,” said Abhinav Joshi (9), who uses Uber services once a week. “Uber is more personal, the drivers are more relaxed, and it is much cheaper.”

For many, Uber’s main selling point is its low rates.

Their prices are about three fourths or less. If I take a taxi to the airport from where I live, it’s 17 dollars, if I take an uber, it’s eight,” math teacher Jane Keller said. “It is part of our process in the United States. People create businesses, and if you don’t keep up, your business doesn’t keep going.”

Morgan Douglas (10), who uses Uber services twice a month, concurs.

“It’s not that overpriced,” she said.  “Usually the people aren’t creepy and they have nice cars.”

Uber offers a cheaper alternative to traditional taxi and bus services, but some are not convinced about safety for the passenger.

The company has faced accusations declaring that its service is not as safe as traditional taxi services. Last year, district attorneys from Los Angeles and San Francisco filed a lawsuit against Uber for alleged exaggeration of the thoroughness of its drivers’ background checks.

In Uber’s history, multiple drivers have been accused of sexual assault against passengers. In the past year, according to the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association (TLPA), there have been 27 incidents of sexual assault by Uber drivers.

Despite these claims, Ankita Uppugunduri (11) still uses Uber and sees it as a reliable service.

I feel like Uber is just more well-known and there aren’t that many cases of it going wrong or the drivers being bad, so I think it’s pretty trustworthy,” Ankita said.

More people are using Uber in the countries and states where it is legal, causing taxi companies, bus companies, and the rest of the competition to be left behind.

This piece was originally published in the pages of The Winged Post on November 20, 2015.