Should we have UBER in Peachland?

The Province is asking Councils across the Province of BC for their input. We weren’t given much time to mull it over, so instead of throwing out an opinion without having time to think it through properly, Peachland Council asked for more time. The feeling was that we’d be better to miss out on an opportunity to respond to the Province about UBER & LYFT, (henceforth referred to only as “UBER”), than it would be to respond without taking adequate time to make an informed decision.

- The Province has proposed a mandatory increase in driving experience for UBER operators
- The Province has proposed that Driver’s License Class is to be increased for UBER operators

I’m very plain about stating that my personal opinion should carry no more weight than the opinions of those whom I represent as a Councilor. In the case of UBER, I believe that the opinion of Peachland Taxi is much more relevant than my own, and probably yours, too. I continue to discuss the matter with the owner/operator, and although I will not speak for him, I will encourage him to post his opinions here. His services in Peachland have made such a positive impact upon our community that supporting his services is among my first concerns.

I don’t mean to say that the owner of Peachland Taxi should have a veto over the UBER issue, but I do mean to say that his opinion carries much weight with respect to this issue, and I think this is reasonable in light of the great service he provides.

My Basic Thoughts & Opinion for the Discussion:
(Numbered, so you can respond to them easily)…
1. - I am in favour of allowing UBER to operate in BC.
2. - This is an all-or-nothing issue we must decide together. Either UBER is permitted in BC, or it is not.
3. - I don’t see the need for UBER in Peachland. I did 2 years ago.
4. - Restricting the free-market is a measure of last resort and should be discouraged.
5. - Other communities need UBER. Ask your friends in Kelowna or Lake Country.
6.- Peachland effectively had no taxi service before Mark came along 2 years ago.
7. - Over-regulation & Protectionism within the industry had prevented Mark from operating for years.
8. - Over-regulation & protectionism within the industry is caused primarily by the taxi industry.
9. - Over-regulation & protectionism with the industry has been supported by government.
10. - Consumers cannot be expected to pay for protectionism, or to go without ride-services because of it.
11. - The free-market provides for competition. It’s fair that the taxi industry faces competition.

* Please continue reading, if you like! Or simply respond to the comments above.

The Difficulty of Getting a Westside Cab to Peachland

I don’t know if you remember how difficult it was to get a cab before Peachland Taxi came along. I’d tried to get a cab frequently over the years, and ended up walking home every time.
I’ve NEVER successfully hailed a taxi from the westside. Not once.

I’ve rarely had a problem since Mark & Peachland Taxi commenced service. I’ve had to make other arrangements on a few occasions when he was on vacation or had injured himself. Otherwise, his service is excellent. In fact, I will say that his service is “above” excellent.

Before the days of Peachland Taxi, my observation is that the cab companies in Westbank would send a couple of cars at the beginning of the night, but they simply weren’t available when business picked up at peak hours. I’ve observed people waiting hours for the arrival of a cab from the westside. I’ve experienced many instances where multiple companies simply refused to send a cab to Peachland. I’ve waited patiently to go home, having the cab I’d requested never show up at all. I understand why people would make other arrangements to get home in the meantime.

I understand why cabs from the westside would be frustrated to make the trip all the way to Peachland only to find that their fare had found another way home. I understand why people had reason to believe that calling a cab from the westside was futile. I understand that it’s more profitable to run their cabs closer to the bridge.

On a Unicorn with Golden Shield, Along Came Peachland Taxi

Peachland Taxi changed all that! It still amazes me that Mark is available virtually all of the time… whenever you need him. He’s like a superhero with a cell phone instead of a bat-signal. Sent from heaven, this dedicated guy even dislocated his shoulder helping a fare up the stairs to his apartment. I could go on about the excellence of his personal and courteous service, but the main point is that he’s serving us well. He’s getting us home safely and all over town when we need him. He’s made life easier. He’s saved lives.

We don’t need UBER here, and I don’t believe this gives us a justification to ban it. We probably don’t need another fast-food hamburger restaurant here, either… open one if you like.

Peachland Taxi was Denied a Licence for Years

An interesting point is that Mark was denied his cab licence in Peachland for years before he finally got the go-ahead to operate here. Do you remember signing the petitions for two years to get a taxi service in Peachland? If this was his loss, then we surely suffered for it, as well. I don’t mind walking home on the highway when the weather is fair. It’s much less enjoyable, (and more dangerous) when the weather is not kind. I surely would have welcomed UBER before Mark came along.

Taxi companies are protective of their turf. From a business perspective, it’s easy to understand why Peachland might be a distant second thought for operators trying to make a living closer to the big city. I’m not blaming them, and I don’t think you should, either. We’re all just looking for a ride home.

UBER Might NOT be a Great Company to Work For

You’ve probably read the same articles that I’ve read about UBER. Overall, it doesn’t seem to be a job that pays very well, and may people don’t stick with it for more than six months. The gig-economy has opened doors in many respects, but there’s a heartless reality behind it. Like salespeople who work for straight commission, people in the gig economy are working for themselves… spending money to make money… no safety net… no benefits… no guarantees except being stuck with the bills. Maybe you don’t think it’s fair?

I don’t think we should deny anybody the opportunity to take a chance on the gig economy. Many UBER drivers drive on the side, and have other employment throughout the day. As a Realtor, I work for straight commission. Times are very slow right now, and it seems that governments, both federal and provincial are intending to make it even slower. I’ve worked 12 hours days without a dime to show for it. Week after week. Month after month. Unfairly or not, the fees never stop coming. The expenses always have to be paid. Don’t feel badly for me, folks! I’ve chosen an industry of feast or famine… MY choice. I enjoy it.

The Free Market

There are cases where UBER drivers earn enough money to make it worthwhile. Up to half of the drivers make less than minimum wage for their efforts. In less lucrative areas, driving around all night for 20 bucks still might be worthwhile to the driver who really needs twenty bucks. He can’t take a labour job on a construction site without quitting his day job. He could probably take evening shifts at KFC or Starbucks… 4 hours/night at minimum wage. He could make birdhouses and sell them at the Farmer’s Market, too.

The demand for another ride-service has arisen where traditional taxi companies are not able to service an area properly. Perhaps UBER drivers don’t stay in the business very long, but it helps them get through a rough patch and pay some bills? I don’t think it’s right to take the gig economy away from them, and I don’t think it’s right to make consumers wait in the streets for a traditional cab that’s never coming. Furthermore, I don’t think it’s right to demand that traditional taxi companies provide services in areas that are going to lose money, despite the fact that their own over-regulation has made it that much more difficult for them.

I’ve many friends in Kelowna who have given up on hiring a cab, and UBER can’t get here soon enough for them. They walk almost an hour to get home every time they go to a pub or see a band downtown, and if you find these guys out there, I promise they’ll tip handsomely for a ride home. If they were made aware that UBER drivers don’t make very much money, or that they weren’t allowed to take tips, they wouldn’t take “no” for an answer, either. They’ve been wanting UBER for a long time.

Licencing
Here’s the sticky part. Did you know that traditional cabs pay up to a half-a-million dollars for licences in major markets?? A quarter-million apparently isn’t all that unusual, but I’m NOT an expert.
Ask yourself these questions:
a. Whose idea was that?!?
b. How can UBER be allowed to operate without paying similar costs?
c. Is any of this your fault?

I’ll look forward to your responses & opinions! Remember folks, we’re all in this together. If UBER is banned here, then it’s banned everywhere. Please tell me… what do we say to the Province?