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Opinion: Uber is the cab of the future

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Last August, I took my first Uber car. I went to a bar on High Street in Columbus to see a show I was invited to. Like any responsible adult, I didn’t want to drink and drive, so I got dropped off and planned on calling an Uber to go home. I wasn’t sure what to expect; the service isn’t in Athens, and the only cab experiences I’ve had were in one of the services down here. The drive ended up going well. The driver was nice too, and it cost only $12 compared to the estimated $22 it would have cost with most other cabs, according to TaxiFareFinder.com.

Uber and other similar apps such as Lyft are long overdue. It’s been eight years since the release of the iPhone and the beginning of the smartphone revolution, and now we finally have a taxi service that will come to you in almost every major city for a cheap price. I’m sure everyone has heard about how ridiculous cab fares can be, and it can be difficult to hail one if you’re not in a city with an abundance of cabs like New York City. This is the kind of innovation we have needed for a business that is a staple of American culture.

Yet whenever there is a new, innovative business, the old fat cats get in the way, willing to do anything to stop competition. Many old time cab drivers throughout the world as well as the businesses that back them have been challenging smartphone-based cab companies. In America, Uber has been facing legal action due to it’s recent increase in popularity. And yet more often than not it has managed to win these legal battles.

In NYC, where the government limits the number of taxis, there were attempts to put a cap on the number of Uber drivers allowed in the city. Yet when a group of credit unions heavily invested in taxis sued the city for not limiting Uber cars in the city, a judge ruled that “electronic hail” cabs were perfectly legal to compete with the city’s iconic yellow cabs. An attorney representing the investors who pursued this court case called the ruling “illegal” and a “catastrophe.” It’s interesting how people involved in business swear by the free market and loath government intervention until legitimate competition comes into play.

Uber has even begun to move into Europe, where numerous cities across the continent have been giving into the complains and severely limiting the the service, despite it being much easier for everyday consumers. In Belgium, taxi drivers decided to protest the arrival of Uber by blocking traffic to airports because the best way to get the people on your side is making them late for all their flights.

The only complaint I will list here that should be heeded by every student here at Ohio University is that Uber is not in Athens. Imagine, with the tap of your touch screen, you can easily and quickly get a ride to the Athena Grand on E. State St., or maybe even the Fun Barn near Nelsonville. If you’re out late and can’t find your way home, just call an Uber. If your friend has too much Athens fun uptown or at a party, you can easily call a cab that will take them home. The best part is if you’re on a budget, Uber is cheap. Students can even become Uber drivers themselves and use their own cars as long as they meet Uber’s requirements. We need Uber in Athens, and I know many other students would agree having it will benefit OU students in many different ways.

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