Debt, depression and despair, the three D's that have crept into the lives of traditional taxi drivers across the globe ever since the onslaught of under-regulated and the over-aggressive emergence of ride-hailing apps such as Uber and in some cities, Lyft.
A very basic business model dressed up with diamonds (of the cubic zirconia kind) and roses, was presented to the general public as the saviour to the transport industry. To have a hero in any story you must have a villain, in this fictional story, that villain role was given to the traditional taxi driver. The man and woman who may have served the very industry for decades. The man and woman who dedicated their working commitment to the taxi industry, abiding by all rules and regulations set out to maintain high standards and a level playing field. "A level playing field", remember that because we will be coming back to that very soon.
Cheap rides and convenience were the cheers from the board rooms of major investors and all those seeking some sort of financial gains from the success of such business models.
The general public were soon flocking in their thousands, signing up to the heavily subsidised promotional codes for free rides and discounts here and discounts there. "Let's get an Uber" was the phrase sweeping the big city streets. According to the cheerleaders, the taxi industry had been revolutionised. It was time for the traditional taxi to move aside and make way for Mr Technology, a super hero from another planet who came to rid the world of such evil men and women who expected the modern travel goer to hail a taxi by going through the excruciating pain of lifting their arms up or walking 50 meters to a taxi rank to jump in a cab.
Ok, I understand that people are now obsessed with phones and apps, and being able to hail a vehicle through your phone could definitely be seen as convenient at times, along with the ability to pay for your journey through online details without having to worry about the need to carry cash is definitely a plus for some punters, but the truth is; none of this is the real reason ride-hailing apps have been so successful at generating commuters, if not profit, it's all about the cheap fares.
Technology has not been the saviour of the taxi industry, it's been the fancy dressing to de-regulating an industry that has now been labelled "over-regulated" in the past. It's nothing more than a smoke screen which is continuously pumping to keep the reality at bay.
If it was technology that was the real hero, why not offer to all taxi and Private hire ball playing firms and regulators to roll out at a price? What was the great need to introduce thousands upon thousands of more drivers and vehicles to cities that were already heavily over populated? It's simple; they knew the current drivers knew their worth. Drivers already working the industry knew they were entitled to earn a basic living at worst.
I have no doubt that punters across the globe would've been just as satisfied with the technology being rolled out in that way. But instead the route was taken to convince the public that the job of ferrying passengers around safely wasn't worth a decent living and in fact should only be considered for those who were unable to offer much more to modern society. The underpaid and overworked were introduced to the industry. The driver was no longer considered of any relevance.
The taxi industry is now on it's knees. Everyone is struggling, and yes that includes the big brand names who started this mess. Drivers are now having to work extremely long hours to just simply get by. That's the oldskool drivers and the so-called new breed who were sold a false dream. Debt, depression and despair, follow around these drivers now at a worrying level. Drivers are losing their homes and taking their lives in some terrible cases. And all because they've been made out to be the villain in this story of world domination.
The industry was always far from perfect and was in need of a tech boost, even the biggest luddites can agree with that (right, Boris?). But here we are now in an industry where a tech virus is plaguing it. Greed, and the need to be wanted, has infected an industry that just needed a little medication. It's now on life support, and the new calls to save it are from those obsessed with autonomous vehicles. And yes those are the same people that introduced Mr Technology to save the industry from the traditional taxi man/woman.
It's only about monopoly. Endless million and billion pound investments need to some day make a profit. This mess will continue until world domination is finally achieved, and for me, you and anyone who doesn't have a financial foothold in the elitist circle will only suffer.
Competition is never a bad thing, but like in any competition that puts lives at risk, strict rules and regulations must be enforced for the safety of not just the individuals competing but also for the industry that they represent. An un-level playing field will only end in disaster at some point. Floyd Mayweather may have the slick footwork and head movement to evade the huge punches of Anthony Joshua for a round or two, but eventually he'll get caught and it will be lights out. That's why the rules are there to not allow such a fight to take place. It's not competition. It's an unfair playing field.