Jun 16 2014

Are Ride Sharing Apps Uber and Lyft Promoting a “Parasitic” Business Model?

A woman in Panorama City, Southern California, earlier this month was kidnapped by an Uber driver, apparently with the intention to sexually assault her. Earlier this year a six-year old child in San Francisco was tragically killed, also by a driver employed by the controversial Uber mobile app.

Uber is a company that connects independent drivers with passengers via smart phone apps, claiming to offer convenience and accessibility. However, the increasingly popular ride-sharing services such as Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar, are now facing opposition from municipalities and taxi-cab companies.

The companies are global. In Europe, taxi drivers in various cities including London and Madrid, held mass protests against the growing market share being gobbled up by Uber.

Independent drivers both in Europe and here in the US offering ride-sharing are not regulated as strictly as traditional taxi companies, giving rise to a number of potential problems over issues such as safety and pricing. Colorado just became the first state in the US to pass a bill regulating the services.

Uber in particular is known for a its policy of “surge pricing,” in which riders are subjected to pay exorbitant, fluctuating, and unpredictable fees depending upon supply and demand. In one instance, a Los Angeles woman paid over $350 for a 14-mile ride across the city.

GUEST: Darwin Bond Graham is a sociologist and journalist who writes about political economy. He lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area. Click here for his blog.

Click here to read his article about Uber.

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