An Open Letter to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation:
I have been a resident of Los Angeles for more than 20 years. In that time, I have taken no less than 500 taxi rides around the city. Uber, Lyft and Sidecar provide a very good solution to the problems all of us LA riders face. Do not take them away from us.
Los Angeles has numerous problems with its taxi fleet.
Battling rigged and fraudulent meters is a constant, ongoing challenge. As consumers, we are forced to either accept the rigged meters or have a heated argument with a taxi driver who (1) is not a highly ethical person and (2) now knows exactly where we live. LA Taxi drivers have not been required to implement any technology or mobile tracking to measure the actual ride fees. Rather, we are still subject to the often inflated fee determined by a decades old meter technology that is easily manipulated. The meter rigging controversy is not new.
Many LA Cabs stink. They reek of cigarette smoke, body odor, urine, and fast food. We don't enjoy these cab smelly rides. We don't enjoy carrying these foreign smells with us for the rest of our day. Without Uber, Lyft and Sidecar (who tend to use newer cars), we don't have the option of selecting the service that considers hygiene.
Sometimes we find ourselves in remote areas, such as Downtown after dark or the Hollywood Hills, and we are told there are no cabs available. If the cab company determines we are too far, the dispatch may not assign a cab to the fare.
Sometimes we are told a cab will fetch us in 15 minutes, and 45 minutes later, no cab has arrived. Without remote tracking, we as consumers have no way of determining if a cab has even been assigned to us. By keeping us in the dark, the taxi company will attempt to keep the fare at the expense of our experience. They do this because they can.
Allowing the people of Los Angeles multiple options increases the city's overall productivity. We'd rather go outside when we know our car has arrived than waste time standing around on the corner, hoping to hail a cab. Uber leverages existing, idling and unused limos and drivers, making better use out of the down times all drivers inevitably face.
Uber, Lyft and Sidecar solve every single one of these problems for us. I encourage you to actively engage the residents of Los Angeles in this debate.
Let your voice heard and sign this Change.org petition: https://www.change.org/petitions/city-of-los-angeles-repeal-the-cease-and-desist-order-on-uber-lyft-and-sidecar
Eytan Elbaz (Twitter: @eytanelbaz)
Jacqueline Marie Pabst