Thursday 1 December 2022
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How Uber offers Hope for Some, But Has the Potential to Put Others Out of Business

Op/Ed By Kofi Quaye


kofi_quayeMany unemployed African-Americans, like Syracuse resident Danny DeGrass, say they are waiting for Uber to make its entry into the transportation and taxi industry, in Central New York. Syracuse is one of the major cities in upstate New York in which Uber doesn’t operate. DeGrass looks forward to signing up as an affiliate driver with the fast-growing transportation company, which only recently emerged, but has succeeded in becoming a major player in the taxi and transportation industry on a global basis. Uber seems to be the answer to his quest for a job.

To DeGrass, Uber has offered the chance to buy a brand new or used car from a dealership; a car recommended by Uber, which won’t base the sale of the car solely on his credit history. He will also avoid the hassle of applying and waiting to be approved for the ground transportation license from the police department, or being subjected to a vigorous background check for any criminal history. He won’t need the license, and won’t have to deal with the high commercial insurance taxi drivers pay for coverage.

Working with Uber will make it possible for DeGrass to circumvent most of the traditional impediments which usually make it hard for African-Americans to get into the taxi and transportation business. According to Degrass, his experience taught him that he would be disqualified somewhere along the line, if he went out and tried to do it on his own.

He, like most people, is ‘feeling’ the growing mystique of Uber, which appears to be the result of a series of highly-publicized incidents involving Uber-affiliated drivers, which have been widely reported in the media.

When a New York City cop berated a driver affiliated with Uber for an action he deemed improper, it had gone viral on the Internet, and was extensively reported about on network television. So was the confrontation between taxi drivers and Uber drivers in the streets of Paris and London.

Over the course of the past several months, media reports about Uber have ranged from accusations of criminal behavior leveled at Uber drivers, to charges against Uber’s corporate bosses for bribing government officials in foreign countries.

However, the widespread media publicity appears to also have had the unintended consequence of projecting Uber as a powerful global giant, which uses its vast resources to intimidate the competition with US lawsuits, and bribery in other countries, to neutralize the forces which oppose them.

In addition, ativan no prescription amid denials by Uber bosses, reports have continued to circulate, suggesting that Uber-affiliated vehicles are not safe. The main reason is that the drivers have not been subjected to the kind of rigorous background checks transportation drivers in a city like Syracuse have to go through when they apply for the ground transportation licenses which make it legal for them to do business.

Now, the question is: will Uber become the dominant transportation company in Central New York, in the wake of their success in New York City? There is no easy answer to that one. Given their vast resources, and great business model, which uses smart phones to connect riders and drivers with no monies changing hands; Uber has offered an alternative that appeals to today’s technology-driven consumers who prefer to use credit cards and smart phones.

It certainly poses a threat to transportation providers, particularly taxi drivers in a city like Syracuse, many of whom are African-Americans and Africans. They don’t want Uber anywhere near where they operate. And I don’t blame them.

At the same time, Uber’s business model also seems to attract many unemployed African-Americans, and Africans, who are seeking jobs, and looking for new ways to make money. They are anxiously awaiting Uber’s arrival.

This is as double-edged a sword as there can be.

One thing is for sure, and that is what Uber corporate bosses, and Uber-affiliated drivers, might not have factored into their calculations: the Syracuse Police Department Ground Transportation Licensing Unit.  They know precisely what to do with individuals, and organizations, that don’t play by the rules. They straighten them out, or put them out of business.

In Syracuse, Sgt. Galvin, and the crew of the Ground Transportation and Licensing Unit, make sure even legally licensed taxi and delivery drivers obey city rules and regulations. The highly-mobile ground transportation unit is everywhere, checking on compliance with city rules and regulations by taxi drivers and other transportation operators. Taxi drivers can expect to be pulled over by the police, just to check if they have their taxi driver’s licenses and metered rates on display, and are issued appearance tickets if they have been noncompliant.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how Uber will fare in Syracuse when they arrive. As for DeGrass, he continues to be optimistic about Uber coming to Syracuse, and making it possible for him to get a job…. soon.