Last week, we reported how in the span of 24 hours, 9,000 Floridians signed a petition to get Uber in Florida. But what appears to be a revolutionary way of melding technology and getting a cab is also a major potential threat to cabdrivers and the taxi industry as a whole.
Uber is basically an app with which you can request a cab or limo driver, then name your price. You can also rate the driver.
Plenty of us know what a pain in the ass getting a cab can be down here in South Florida. So, on the surface, Uber would appear ideal.
But Uber also has something called UberX, which is basically a lower-priced version of Uber that uses midrange cars for ridesharing. And according to concerned cabbies across the state and country, it's going to cripple the industry.
For the moment, in Florida, Uber is available only in Jacksonville. But the Florida Legislature is looking to change that, which is where Uber's petition comes in. And Uber has brought UberX wherever it has gone.
Uber started off with regular licensed drivers in cities such as New York; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; and San Francisco.
"It was like discovering ice cream for the first time," Jennifer Condie, a cabdriver from Palm Beach County told New Times when she first learned of the app. "This is the future, I thought."
Uber then took notice of the success of ridesharing companies such as Lyft and Sidecar.
The problem is, ridesharing services have been widely unregulated. But that didn't stop Uber from launching UberX. The lack of regulation, it would seem, is probably what spurred them on in the first place, according to some concerned cabbies.
A San Francisco assistant district attorney recently told regulators that drivers who are using UberX and other ridesharing companies are committing insurance fraud.
Basically, a rideshare such as UberX, taxi drivers like Condie say, is a threat to public safety as well as to the industry.
The reason for concern is that personal auto insurance doesn't cover commercial drivers. And, according to the drivers we spoke to, Uber has specifically told its drivers not to get insurance.