marcoRecorder

Disruptiveness matters

There has been a lot of talking about Uber lately in Brussels, in Italy, in India, in Spain. Basically everywhere where this mobile-app-based transportation network is spreading with success.

Uber’s success struck the world’s taxi business like a lightening. Uber was founded as “UberCab” by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp in 2009 and the app was released the following June. It raised $49 million in venture funds by 2011. Beginning in 2012, Uber expanded internationally. In 2014, it experimented with carpooling features and made other updates. It continuously raised additional funding, reaching $2.8 billion in total funding by 2015.

Many governments and taxi companies have been protesting Uber, alleging that its use of un-licensed, crowd-sourced drivers is unsafe or illegal.

From the consumer’s point of view, Uber is an incredible service. It costs on average 3 or 4 times less than a cab, it’s incredibly user-friendly and It offers an amazing customer service. On these three points they really crashed the competitions of cabs companies in the Belgian capital. I won’t get into deep about the whole licensing issue (which is a very big issue) and I do understand the protests of taxi drivers who paid tens of thousands of euros to get their license and now they see their investment wasted by the advent of technological progress.

What I want to present is my own experience. Last 15 December I had a very intrusive foot and ankle surgery from which I’m still very slowly recovering. Needless to say, my mobility is still very limited. Before going back to work I was terrified of all the walking I would have to go through with public transports. I needed, and still need a car to pick me up and get me to work. If I had to use a cab for these daily movements I would have to spend roughly 25€ a day (going to work and come back). I would have to call an operator every time I need a cab and, speaking from experience, I wouldn’t know when exactly my cab would arrive to pick me up (so many times I have waited over 40 minutes to have a taxi home). With Uber I pay 8€ a day (4€ going and 4€ coming back), I usually have a car at my doorsteps between 4 and 8 minutes, and I can rate my ride and driver. I have a direct contact with customer service for whatever I need and I’m sure this feedback highly helps the company improve and meet its customers’ demands. I can only think of very technology-adverse customers not choosing this option. There are simply no reasons why anybody would take taxis over Uber apart from reluctance in purchasing online services with a credit card.

Apart from the pecuniary aspect (the big elephant in the room nobody wants to talk about) the service is just outstanding. A number of times, I was clearly ripped off by cabs in Brussels and most times cab drivers could use more manners. Furthermore, as I discussed in an article about cycling in Brussels, I still don’t understand what it is with cab drivers in Brussels hating cyclists, which is an issue I take personally and experience on a daily basis. When I take Uber this has never been an issue.

"Uberlogo" di Kobolen - Opera propria. Con licenza Pubblico dominio tramite Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Uberlogo.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Uberlogo.jpg

“Uberlogo” di Kobolen – Wikimedia Commons 

I even once had an unfavourable experience with Uber (he driver was texting while driving) and their customer service took prompt action in trying to understand how they could improve.

Uber is also a deterrent to cars-buying in a city that already suffers from over-use of automobiles and it’s notably the most congested city in Europe and North America.

What is your Uber experience? Do you think Uber and other car-sharing services will help Brussels reduce the amount of cars in the city?

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