By: Dan I. Cook
I was born and raised here in Broward County. Growing up, I used to take the city bus from the front of St. Clements School in Wilton Manors to downtown Fort Lauderdale. At that time, I was in the 8th grade. In the Marine Corps I used to hitchhike and take cabs on and off base all the time. All of this type of travel was because I didn’t have wheels and I was broke, so taking cheap transportation was a necessity. When I got home and got a job, I would take cabs when I had to go to the airport, or while going out for a night on the town. So I’m pretty qualified to voice my displeasure with what is going on with Uber’s recent departure from Broward County.
I’ve watched some crazy political nonsense and shenanigans occur over my 48 years. The standoff between some of our county commissioners and Uber is America at its worst. America was founded on competition and when you have to compete against a challenger, you are forced to step up your game.
Case in point: Uber comes along offering an alternate mode of transportation at a cheaper price. When you open the app and ask for a ride, you can see a picture of the driver, a copy of their license plate, and what type of car they are driving. No money changes hands, you don’t have to tip, and you rate your experience the next time you prompt the Uber application. Excellent service and I’ve used them at least 28 times with no problems.
Before I used Uber I only used Yellow Cab. I’ve never met the owner of Yellow Cab, but I will tell you this: the drivers I have come across hate him. If you ever started a conversation with a driver they would love to complain about their car fees and how they get charged when someone uses the credit card machine Blah blah blah. I don’t want to hear this crap. I just need a ride man. Anyone who has taken Yellow Cab knows what I am taking about.
What makes it even worse is when their employees don’t care about who they’re working for, because it shows in the level of service you get. I should never have to tell the driver to put the air conditioning on. It’s South Florida! I don’t care if you’re trying to save money on your gas. Also, get your credit card machine fixed. For some unknown cosmic reason they are always broke. Again, I don’t care if your boss charges you extra when me, the customer, uses it.
Then comes the hygiene of the drivers. Take a damn shower and put some deodorant on. The majority of the drivers I’ve come in contact with work 12 to 16 hours and they smell like it. The cars are filthy. A lot of the drivers sleep in them and they are just plain dirty and smell.
I recently took a Yellow Cab because Uber is gone. Boy, what a difference. The car was clean and new, the air was on, no body odor, and no complaining from the driver. It was a great experience except for the price. In my mind I knew if I took Uber the cost would have been half of what I paid. That sucks! But, kudos to Yellow Cab for stepping up their game. That’s what competition creates folks.
Free enterprise is what I’m talking about. Let me the consumer worry about my own safety. I don’t need big brother watching over me, I’m almost 50 years old for god sakes. Also, I’m not totally convinced that the owner of Yellow Cab didn’t have a hand in the demise of Uber. I’ve read the news over the years and am very aware that Yellow Cab has had a stranglehold on cab service at the port and airport. That doesn’t happen from being a just a nice guy.
The commissioners who voted for the tough provisions that made drivers register with the county, submit to a county-run fingerprint-based background check, and carry higher amounts of insurance, even though most of the drivers use their own personal cars only part time, need to look at themselves in the mirror and honestly ask this question: “Am I allowing the voters to pick reliable mode of transportation at a cheaper cost?” If the answer is no, they need to do the right thing for us the consumer; the voter. Forget about any favors owed to Yellow Cab. Let them improve service, evolve, or they can become obsolete like an Encyclopedia salesman. Bring Uber back!
Next up….stay tuned for Broward County Commissioner Stacy Ritter’s proposal in our next article.