Columnist and fellow playwright Fa Abdul at FMT hit the nail right on the head with her critique of why Malaysians, in particular, has eschewed taxis for Uber and Grab Car. I have become so fed-up with taxi drivers in Malaysia that when I discovered Uber and tried it for the first time, I thought the sky opened up and a heavenly light followed my little Uber car all the way home on wings of angels and harps chords.
Taxi companies and politicians around the world have hit Uber and like ride-sharing companies hard accusing them of being unsafe, under insured, a commercial venture that should be regulated the same as the taxi industry, and so there have been protests, laws, prohibitions, and all kinds of other nonsense. But what hasn’t happened is all of the critics actually try to determine which type of passenger car ferrying provides the service and price point that the customer actually wants? Because it’s painfully obvious. The taxi drivers I have used in Malaysia are an embarrassment compared to the Uber drivers. Fa outlines all of this very well.
I can’t tell you how many times I said to a taxi driver “Look at your door. It says ‘metered taxi only. No haggling'” as the driver haggles with me. He brushes it off as it is nothing. Or how many times did I used to walk from taxi to taxi “Will you take me there?” “No.” “How about you?” “No.”
The so-called progressives in society have become regressive when they work to limit ride-sharing companies. And let’s make it clear, it’s politics not safety concerns which is driving these criticisms. In the United States, big cities are overwhelmingly Democratic, and the Democratic political machinery has worked in lockstep with taxi unions to squash the competition because they get loyal support from them. But it still hasn’t worked because folks who want to get from point A to point B in a clean, inexpensive, and timely manner don’t care about politics. They car about service.
I had some family members visiting us in Malaysia a couple weeks ago. I encouraged them to download Uber and give it a try when they wanted to get out and about on their own one day. Yes, another convert. Affordable convenience rather than dealing with hucksters.
So I agree with Fa 100%. Taxi drivers aren’t going to win back customers through regulations and complaining about how unfair everything is. They will win back customers by using their meters and providing a pleasant ride from one place to the next.
I’m a free marketer. Compete for my business. Uber has. The taxi industry hasn’t.
Please head on over to FMT to read Fa’s timely COLUMN.