HOUSTON, TX – There’s an ongoing war here in Houston, but it has nothing to do with the drug cartels. Cab drivers and online ridesharing companies are fighting for your fare.
So far, the Mayor and the City Council are not quite ready to allow companies such as Uber and Lyft to operate in town. Of course it’s not because their apps don’t work, but because traditional taxi companies brought their big guns to lobby against them.
“You cannot work at the airport if you don’t have a background check,” said cab driver Khaled Hassan. “You have to have a badge.”
And a license, what drives costs up.
“But there’s also certain taxi drivers who refuse a fare because the distance is too short,” answered Uber driver Philip Chung.
We took a cab from Westpark and Hillcroft to Market Square downtown. The price: 29 dollars. On our way back we tried Uber. The fare was $26, but since the company is not legal yet… they charged “zero!”. Part of a “ride for free” promotion, but that won’t last forever. Lift works a little bit differently since here we’re talking about peer-to-peer ridesharing. You don’t pay a fare but a “donation.”
So free market vs. protecting local jobs. It looks like the past and future are clashing in the present.
“Instead of fighting us,” suggested Chung, “let’s try to work together and do our best.”
If only things could be so easy.