Imagine, if you will, cab drivers that obeyed speed limits, kept their cars in good repair and were polite and courteous to their customers. Picture a taxi driver who doesn’t give a lame excuse to refuse your fare based on your destination, or refrains from talking on a cellphone while weaving through rush-hour traffic with one hand on the steering wheel.
These luxuries may seem like bare minimum requirements of operating a cab, but they’re all part of a new initiative by the United Cabbies Association of Edmonton to try to win back customers from Uber, the immensely popular ride-sharing company that becomes a legal operation in Edmonton on March 1. Even though this move is a much-needed step in the right direction, it’s a little too late to be trying to impress people with common courtesy, and it won’t be enough to give cabbies the edge over Uber.
Anyone who has taken a cab somewhat frequently will likely have a few stories about an unpleasant ride or driver. I’ve had drivers demand fare up front, refuse to drive more than a few blocks away from Whyte Avenue during the last-call hours of Saturday night and mysteriously not have a debit machine, despite the stickers on the window advertising the opposite. This is not to say that all cab drivers are like this, and not all cab rides are terrible, but it only takes a handful of bad experience to ensure that I, along with many others, will be using Uber to get home after a spirited night on the town.
Treating people with basic human decency, obeying the laws and keeping cabs clean and well-maintained shouldn’t have to be announced as an initiative—they should have been a given. The United Cabbies’ announcement of this new plan shows just how out of touch cab companies have become and why Uber deserves its place at the top of the taxi market.V