John Fund writes in National Review that Uber’s technology-driven transportation service represents the type of creative destruction that allows free market economies to flourish. The author notes several features that have earned the favor of a growing customer base:
Uber drivers’ cars are often newer and cleaner than traditional cabs, and customers can easily request upgrades. Drivers are screened, and a passenger can see a picture of the driver and his or her customer-service rating before getting into the car. Low-ranked drivers can be and are removed from the system, an accountability system that’s missing from most cab companies.
The taxi cab industry has responded by pressuring lawmakers to impose a raft of regulations that would hobble its fledgling competition.
The cab companies and their allies have scored some victories, but the political contests will likely continue for some time. Citing the company’s recent $18 billion valuation, Fund predicts Uber is not going away anytime soon.
TaskRabbit emailed me today in response to my request for further explanation of their decision to disallow ride-sharing services to be exchanged on their website.
The company confirms that legal concerns drove the decision in part, as well as potential liability issues. A number of cities and states, including Chicago and Illinois, have recently passed regulation targeting ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.
While those companies have been forced to adapt, an outfit like TaskRabbit, for whom ride-sharing only constitutes a small portion of its overall activity, appears to have found that complying with the new regulations is either not feasible or not worthwhile. It is easier to simply pull the service, leaving consumers with one less choice the next time they want to arrange a ride online.
Here te is the full email from TaskRabbit.:
TaskRabbit Support (TaskRabbit Support)
Jun 15 12:54
Thank you for contacting TaskRabbit!
Our Policies Team has made the decision based on the fact that transporting passengers for hire in any TaskRabbit owned or non-onwed vehicles puts our company and the individual TaskRabbit at risk if an accident does occur. Also, we want to comply with various legal requirements about certain for-hire regulations in the major metro areas where we are active.
Please let me know if you have any other questions or if you need further assistance.
TaskRabbit Member Services
In an email to users at 8:02 p.m. last night, TaskRabbit announced it will no longer allow ride-sharing services to be facilitated through its odd-jobs hiring website. The change is effective as of today. While the company did not explain the reasoning behind the decision, it comes at a time when several major cities have recently passed or are currently considering restrictive new regulations on ride-sharing services.
I have emailed TaskRabbit’s policy team to ask for further explanation of the move. A Google News search did not turn up any relevant articles on the development at one of the emerging stars of the “sharing economy.”
Here is the full email:
An email from TaskRabbit.com to registered users on Friday, June 13 at 8:02 p.m. CST.
In an interview with xconomy.com on Thursday, founder Leah Busque also notes that within the larger sharing economy, the transportation category is probably “getting over-saturated.” A comparison of the companies’ websites confirms that Uber operates in eighteen out of the nineteen U.S. cities that TaskRabbit does (all but Portland, Oregon), and Lyft does business in sixteen out of nineteen (all except New York, Philadelphia and Portland).
With new regulations in place from Chicago to San Francisco that would all but make it impossible for TaskRabbits (the affectionate name for people who land odd jobs through the site) to offer rides, plus the competition of specialized providers like Uber and Lyft, it’s no surprise that TaskRabbit had to pull this feature off the road.