View Full Version : Disruptive technology and pay

11th Jun 2014, 18:22
As many might be aware, today in several large cities across Europe there were organised go-slows by the taxi drivers to protest the sudden march of Uber into the established and controlled taxi markets Uber app causes Central London gridlocked by black cab drivers' protest | Mail Online (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2654737/Fears-chaos-London-drivers-join-protest-phone-app-allows-users-hail-cabs.html) (forgive the DM link :zzz: )

This disruptive technology is threatening their stop for hire living as it acts like a defacto meter and seems to bypass the closed system of being registered and vetted/trained and in the case of certain countries, the Badge System whereby a taxi license is bought for considerable sums of money. The taxi drivers are VERY angry and that is understandable, yet there are those who argue that technology is evolving and the old ways are now arcane. I read an article whereby the journalist was giving examples of how the internet had changed closed shop systems for the consumer by allowing them to be bypassed. Estate agents and lawyers were amongst the professions being changed by disruptive technology. It got me thinking, if they are being affected, then who else will go the same way ? Will this cause a deflationary force upon wages/salaries or will it polarise rewards ? Will the day come when Smithers and Curruthers in the front office of some large jet find their take-home reward reduced to semi-skilled levels as they're 'only' supervising the computers doing the flying ? It makes you wonder (at least me).


11th Jun 2014, 18:29
Don't know about other places but Australia has a very monopolised taxi system, from who owns the taxi licences to bookings to payments and the
service is still crap.

So Uber and others have been welcomed, although canned by the authorities.

Interestingly enough, you ask "then who else will go the same way ?"

The payments system by itself is also under threat from new,
e commerce start ups.

You mention Estate Agents - in my opinion, technology has made their job a lot easier to do.

Who else ?


11th Jun 2014, 18:32
It got me thinking, if they are being affected, then who else will go the same way ?

Any business with low barriers to entry that's been reliant on government regulation to keep competitors out of the market?

11th Jun 2014, 18:49
My brother is a London Cabbie. He is highly trained and with many licencing controls that ensure he and his vehicle provide a safe, efficient service on the capital's 10,412 roads (I know the number as I wrote some software to help him learn them). Cars using Uber do not have any of these safeguards. The biggest problem is TfL, who are allowing Uber to break the Law, yet insisting that he continue to obey it with all the attendant costs of doing so.
This is unfair competition.

11th Jun 2014, 18:50
Most of the golden professions are, or recently were controlled by the authorities, some might say to the disadvantage of the consumer and benefit of the practitioners. I can appreciate both sides of the coin. Maybe by removing a lot of the mystery behind the image of how industries really work would cause the professions to be flooded by outsiders thinking "I could do that!" and the rewards lowered across the board ?

A simple example that comes to mind is professional photography, which through the development of digital technology has all but killed the film developing industry, has changed the way people work and has given thousands of amateur snappers the chance to enter the marketplace which has decimated the fees previously demanded. More people are now earning, which IS good, yet the pie is still the same size, so EVERYONE is now earning much less than before and the amount of full timers has been greatly reduced.


11th Jun 2014, 18:53

Re "on the capital's 10,412 roads (I know the number as I wrote some software to help him learn them)"

Surely with the tools available now, learning the roads should not be such a requirement ?

Although I always admire the high standards maintained over there.
They have gone from here.

11th Jun 2014, 19:05
Good and thought-provoking post Mr SpringHeel, thanks.

In fact so thought-provoking I keep writing stuff and then deleting it!

I will sleep on it, but how does an economist price 'The Knowledge'?! :)

Shaggy Sheep Driver
11th Jun 2014, 19:07
TfL should play fair. But black cab drivers need to keep up with technology to stay competitive.

Coach drivers are the worst, though. They really do need sorting out.

I don't think I've ever travelled by coach when the driver has known the way ([email protected] nav or not). They get lost, they go the very long way round.... and at the end some loon organises a collection for a tip for them!

I much prefer trains. I generally find that if I'm going to London from home I don't have to call by the driver's cab and say "Straight on 'till Crewe, then hang a left onto West Coast Main Line. Left again at Stafford down the Trent Valley, keep right at Rugby or you'll end up going via Northampton, then it's straight down through Milton Keynes and Watford to Euston" Somehow the driver (being a professional) already knows that!

And no silly bu66er organises a whip-round at Euston or even a round of applause 'cause the driver got them there!

11th Jun 2014, 19:24
And no silly bu66er organises a whip-round at Euston or even a round of applause 'cause the driver got them there!

That's one of those quaint throwbacks from the beginnings of coach travel (my expert knowledge from a recently watched documentary) whereby the hoi polloi on a day out to X would have a whip round to see the driver alright for a few drinks, as he was one of them. It still persists, as does the practice on the water tradesmen of the river Thames. Why do we give taxi drivers a tip still ? I do, but can't really see why one profession gets a tip and others just the price of the service, unless the tip is already built in to the price :)


11th Jun 2014, 19:35
but how does an economist price 'The Knowledge'?!

That's the thing, before the invention of GPS the brain of the cabbie was the GPS and it's uncanny how accurate and reliable it was/is. Now many drivers from backofbeyondistan arrive in country, get hired by family/friends and with GPS technology are able to give a passable service. If I had a choice I'd rather reward the driver who knows their city, it's ways and means and that they are vetted and all but honest and reliable. The cost of using a black cab in London isn't cheap, but within the price you're buying a level of quality (and a few unwanted opinions at no extra cost :} )


11th Jun 2014, 19:39
More people are now earning, which IS good, yet the pie is still the same size, so EVERYONE is now earning much less than before and the amount of full timers has been greatly reduced.

Not really true. For example, the Internet has radically reduced the cost of buying stock photos and images, so I now buy them for book covers when, otherwise, I'd probably have made my own. That's more money going to photographers and artists that they would previously have never seen.

Similarly, cheaper taxis would probably mean more people taking taxis. I really can't think of any cases where providing the same product at a lower cost has resulted in a smaller market overall, since it allows people who were previously priced out to buy the product. The market would have to be pretty much saturated for that to happen.

11th Jun 2014, 19:40
"If I had a choice I'd rather reward the driver who knows their city, it's ways and means and that they are vetted and all but honest and reliable."

+ 1

But I think the standards are slipping everywhere.
(My mum used London Cabs this year and said they weren't like they used to be).

Here where I live in Aus, What I find is that drivers sometimes don't even know the bigger "B" type roads that come off major "A" type roads in well known suburbs and where they go to.

11th Jun 2014, 19:44
That's the thing, before the invention of GPS the brain of the cabbie was the GPS and it's uncanny how accurate and reliable it was/is.

Yes. There are many industries where people have spent years learning to do what a $100 machine can now do almost as well. There won't be many people left in those industries in a few years.

GPS, particularly with live traffic feeds and other data allowing it to make better route choices, can probably navigate as well as an average taxi driver, and, if Google actually get their self-driving cars to work reliably and safely, they won't even be needed to turn the steering wheel. Taking a human-driven cab would become entertainment for tourists, like taking a horse and cart ride today.

11th Jun 2014, 19:47
I do realise that this is a big subject but I can't help remembering seeing graffiti on a wall somewhere...


Just a thought.

11th Jun 2014, 19:52
Can a Cabbie's 'knowledge' be replaced with a GPS?
GPS doesn't record all the changes in the one-way system and other road closures, but Cabbies have to know this from notices.
A GPS is unlikely to accurately tell you which are the best diversions around traffic problems, or the best short cuts to avoid them in the first place. Anyone relying on traffic alerts is at best responsive, rather than anticipatory.
A GPS will not route to put you on the correct side of the road for your destination.
He has to know every club, hotel, and significant venue in London. That stumps the average minicab driver, yet you can just jump into his cab and say "Bulgarian Embassy", or "Royal Geographical Society" and you're already moving there.

To an extent, there is no substitute for having driven every route before qualifying. My brother, like most, did this over 4 years on a moped.

He's also qualified as a tour guide.

11th Jun 2014, 19:56
Can a Cabbie's 'knowledge' be replaced with a GPS?

Yes, so long as it's talking to a system that feeds it live updates. That way, they'd also know in advance when there's an accident or other problem, and take a different route.

And, while London taxi drivers might actually know all that stuff, most taxi drivers here don't even know the street I live on. So a GPS would probably be an improvement on 90% of the taxi drivers in the world.

11th Jun 2014, 20:01
There is no GPS system I know of that feeds you all the above benefits. I agree that a muppet with a GPS is better than a muppet without; but s/he's still a muppet, and my brother isn't.

11th Jun 2014, 20:05

The GPS system in Melbourne has live feeds, traffic flow colours and accidents. I don't have it but I know it exists as I look at it on line before leaving in case of an accident on the freeway.

11th Jun 2014, 20:38
Take a look at Uber.
I think the big problem is the price quoting.
You know what you are going to pay rather than just jumping in a black cab and hoping it's less than £50.
Surely this is giving the person on the street access to pre booked hire cars.
Which have to go out of their way to pick up a fare, which must cost more than a cab flagged down at the kerb?

As a passenger I don't care how long the journey takes, or what route the driver takes, it up to him to keep his/her costs down, so long as its cheap for me.

11th Jun 2014, 20:53
Some factor other than technology seems to be working in UberTaxi's favor.

Observing the spread in Uber business activity across the wide map of the USA, somehow they have gotten the right - privilege - permission to operate as competition in the highly unionized, politicised, and gangsterized taxi markets of a great many places -- all in parallel -- in a very short period of time.

Getting any innovation into a market in the face of entrenched competition is difficult. Uber's success at this goes well past phenomenal. There must be an X-factor in play that lubricates the company's intrusion into a whole lot of entrenched markets in parallel.

Maybe the Uberites are handing out stock options like candy? Surely somebody here knows exactly what magic formula has enabled this seemingly successful assault by a newcomer on one of the world's most carefully guarded anti-competitive markets.

11th Jun 2014, 20:56
That's why I prefer my car Shaggy Sheep. And if Road Traffic Act legislation allowed, the wheels would be fitted with Boadicea-style rotating-knives to stimulate the legs of every 'Lycra-Loony' overtaken en-route.:E

11th Jun 2014, 21:09
There are specific problems with London.
One look at the road layout difference between London and, say, Melbourne is a good start. London's a maze.
Secondly, a live traffic system cannot tell you whether, for example, taking a route crossing a jammed road is a good idea or not. In London, it depends; Cabbies know this. Furthermore, even a live system cannot predict when particular jams may start or end. Experienced drivers know this too.
I understand the attraction of a fixed price system, but you are either asking the driver to take a loss if there's unexpected problems (and in central London, that can happen a lot), or you'll get overcharged by drivers when there isn't a problem to compensate. With distance/time pricing, you get charged exactly what it costs at that time. If you need a price, ask the cabbie for an estimate; I've never experienced them being out by more than £2. Or take a minicab. The licenced minicab drivers are also protesting against Uber.
Cabbies do not have a problem with minicab drivers. It's a valid, regulated choice for the customer.
To repeat;the problem is that TfL are not applying the rules fairly - Uber drivers are dodging all the required inspections and checks, and the costs associated with them,and TfL isn't enforcing the Law.

11th Jun 2014, 21:10

"Some factor other than technology seems to be working in UberTaxi's favor."

Yes, it is called people the world over are sick of taxi monopolies that are expensive, don't provide good service, haven't a clue where they are going and generally not a good experience, especially if the driver is a middle aged, over weight, badly dressed one with a smelly car. (We had some shockers in the past here, thankfully some arses have been kicked).

The fact people are prepared to take up an offer of a lift from a "stranger" says it all really.

11th Jun 2014, 21:12

"One look at the road layout difference between London and, say, Melbourne is a good start. London's a maze."

No dispute there.

And that is what pisses a lot of people off here, Melb is a very easy city to learn as the city is on a Grid and the rest of a Hub and Spoke system but they don't know it.

11th Jun 2014, 21:14
The problem with taxi monopolies is again one of regulation. Taxi driving ought to be a relatively easy industry to get into and provide a better service. The fact that it isn't tells you more about local licensing authorities than it does about unions or taxi firms.

The next big closed shop to be challenged will be education. Anyone think a 'qualified' teacher guarantees you even an adequate education for your child?

What the Cabbies want is not a monopoly. They just want TfL to fairly..

11th Jun 2014, 21:15
Wait till we have 'Gypsy' taxis, as I have been told operate in Moscow.
But having seen those dashcam videos, you might not make your destination.

At least in London the cabs aren't going fast enough for a fatal collision!

In my local towns unless you are of Asian descent, forget about offering a taxi service.

11th Jun 2014, 21:28
...but can't really see why one profession gets a tip and others just the price of the service,Agreed, tipping was almost unheard of, and largely still is, in New Zealand until the America's Cup brought many citizens of the USA to our shores - now tipping is a growing disease ( but not from me )

I was only ever given a tip once, after landing at London, a very large Mexican forced his way on to the flight deck as he was disembarking, and INSISTED that I receive a large, 40 oz., bottle of Tequila by way of thanks for a great trip ( nothing to do with me, I only flew the thing ) and would accept no refusal - he was VERY large ! Customs charged me 10 quid to keep it. I threatened to pour it out on to the floor - would have made no difference, I'd have still "landed" it on UK Sovereign Territor. No senses of humour some folk.

One of our more flambouyant stewards once gave a New York taxidriver $1.oo in coins for a 90c ride ( it was a VERY long time ago ! ) and told him to keep the change. As he departed the driver said " Hey, Fairy ( there was some reason for that remark !) you've left your wand behind" , indicating the umbrella on the back seat. The steward collected it, twirled it in front of the driver and said " turn to shit" and walked off. The driver threw a 10c coin out of the window and said " keep it, you need it more than me"

11th Jun 2014, 21:32
Small comment, local cab drivers blocked the border crossing between France and Spain today. Friends coming down to attend a charity auction for children with cancer were held up for two hours at La Jonquera. So were hundreds of trucks. Police did nothing, of course.

Wasn't there something in the Schengen Treaty about "free and unimpeded movement across national borders of EU Member States" ?

11th Jun 2014, 21:34
In my local towns unless you are of Asian descent, forget about offering a taxi service.
This is the complaint in my mother's home town in the Midlands. The taxi drivers are often driving illegally on a cousin's licence, working illegal hours and the firms are refusing to employ any white person. The council licencing office does nothing about any of it.

I have been told directly that they won't employ white people because they "don't work hard enough". When I asked how hard asians worked, I was told "14-16 hours a day".
Happy to be driven by a guy who works 16 hours a day (6 days a week)?

11th Jun 2014, 21:48
16 hours that's the tax credit threshold, wonder what they do the rest of the week.

11th Jun 2014, 21:48
The fact people are prepared to take up an offer of a lift from a "stranger" says it all really.

Some places the official cabbies are strange enough.

There was an era when I practically cut a groove taking cross-country red-eye flights into Washington DC's National airport. Cabbies on that shift always seemed fresh-off-the-boat, little or no ability to communicate in English, and starved for entertainment. Result was a great many eye-opening rides down empty broad avenues through the iconic center of the near-deserted national Capitol at speeds often generously exceeding 100 mph.

Helped 'em keep awake, I reckon.

11th Jun 2014, 21:50
Bob - they drive on someone else's licence the next day

12th Jun 2014, 03:00
The problem with Uber is that there is no control over who supplies the cab job. With a regulated taxi service, you are presumably getting a ride that is insured, a ride that is roadworthy, has a driver who has been vetted, a car that is numbered so it can be traced, has cameras in the cab - and has a system in place, whereby you can lodge complaints or seek retribution or restitution for being robbed, raped, or just taken the long way round.

You hire a Uber ride, you could get a serial rapist, a thrill killer, a professional robber, or any one of a large number of undesirables. You could be given a ride in an unsafe, uninsured or unregistered vehicle, kidnapped, or be on the receiving end of any number of thuggish situations.

Most females seek security when taking a taxi ride, and despite a few rapes by regular taxi drivers (taking advantage of drunk females), they have always been caught by the regulated system. No such security for females with Uber, it's a dream system for potential rapists and thieves.

12th Jun 2014, 03:43
[QUOTE][/QUOTENo such security for females with Uber, it's a dream system for potential rapists and thieveS

So fern Ich weiss, the Ueber SYSTEM sets up the transaction interactively, in real-time, between 1 client (with id#) and 1 provider (ditto). About as good as accountability gets, that.

12th Jun 2014, 05:24
Fox3 - I am a Londoner, born and raised.
Nothing more welcome on a Friday night, walking back from some nightclub and seeing one with it's light on.
Only to be told "Not going your way mate"
And the myth about "South of the Water" is not a myth.
Couple of Fridays ago I dared to get a cab from Liverpool Street to Waterloo.
I normally get the Waterloo and City underground but was a bit worse for wear following a leaving do.
Ended up paying £17 and getting dropped about 300 yards short of Waterloo because of horrendous traffic.
So where was this fabled "Black Cabs drivers know the traffic jams" ?
He actually drove past the W&C Underground entrance. How hard would it have been to say "Get out here mate and get the tube, it's a nightmare up ahead"
And the worst of it was when I remarked about the heavy traffic he said "It's been like this all night"
But to balance this story another one beckons.
More years ago than I care to remember my mother, me and my brother were walking to Fulham on Xmas Day evening for a traditional family get together.
Dad was p*ssed in bed so couldn't drive us. Mum was a tad upset as you can imagine.
Black cab comes along with it's light on, no chance we could afford it, so mum didn't wave it down.
Cab sailed past us, stopped about 20 yards ahead and reversed.
Mum done the old "Sorry no money", "No bother, it's on me" came the reply.
Cabbie told us to get in, didn't even ask where we were going until we were all in.
After some 40 years I still remember that.

12th Jun 2014, 10:56
I was in a main post office today, first time for ages, mostly due to the fact that they've been closed down and sold off and split into several mini-sub-post offices with varying degrees of competence and efficiency. Anyhow, there just inside and facing the typical counter were……..self-serve machines :eek: Complete with weighing scales and the ability to serve. An employee hovered close by to help anyone unsure of how to use the machines. How long before that will make the counter staff unnecessary ?


12th Jun 2014, 11:17
Seems to me is that all the taxi drivers have achieved is an enormous amount of free publicity for Uber.

I hadn't even heard of it. I have now, and I suspect so have a lot of other people. I was told this morning that it was offering a 10% discount for anyone who signed up yesterday. That amount of advertising couldn't be bought - but the taxi drivers provided it for free.

Uber wins out after black cabs gridlock London

Nice one!!!

cockney steve
12th Jun 2014, 11:58
GAS Fitters...have to be acops....no, sorry another cartel organiser, corgi....oops, they've had their gravy, now it's GAS SAFE....FFS, it's bits of pipe and fittings! the legally "allowable" leakage had me horrified at the level of incompetence that would imply.

A now-deceased friend and I refurbished a house he owned, which had become vacant after almost 20 years...we replanned the central heating, modified the existing windows and fitted high efficiency "K-glass" units, did extensive rewiring including kitchen and a shower installation and installed a gas hob....ALL "illegal"
He was a Chartered Engineer, As such, he'd been a Charge-engineer in all sorts of power stations, including Nuclear and was a whizz at interpreting "Rules"
He opined that the rules stated "a competent person" or "a qualified person"..."As a chartered Engineer, I have appraised your skills and workmanship and conclude you are qualified and competent. Let's see the buggers attempt to take us to Court. I guarantee,I am much better qualified than any Council oik." .

When the law changed, regarding electrical installation, one had now to employ a "Part P" certificate holder....but wait!...NO, It's only got to be signed-off by a Part P holder.....OR the local council's building control Dept.....but they don't have any Part P personnel, so they sub it out, bang on an "admin fee" and the punter pays.

So, where's this leading?
Cabs were once bitterly against Minicabs (and rightly-so! ) The latter were unregulated, often unsafe and unsuitable...and that's just the drivers :} Along came regulation and the restrictive practices, such as "pre-booking" enforced, to justify the much higher price a Black Cab would charge.
Modern stuff like GPS has made a lot of " the Knowledge" superfluous....Nice to have, but not necessary.....just like modern CNC machines have made Coach builders and Panel Beaters into a small, niche profession....Remember the days when the Leccy-men would dig a hole in the road, mend a live cable and then make, fit and solder a lead sleeve over it? highly skilled work and , as a child, I spent many a happy hour watching and learning (sad little nerd, billy no-mates)
NOW OBSOLETE...Cabbies in the Capital have a skill which is redundant for most of their routine work....ferrying visitors, tourists and other strangers may call on those skills but for the vast majority of punters, they don't want it, so why pay a very big premium for it?
Sunday Times just did a comparison, Cab was twice the price of the Uber guy, both trips (one out, one in, same two points) within a minute duration...The Uber driver appeared to "meander" an odd route and spoke poor english...So, you want to pay £33 for an 8 mile journey? -or £23 ???

What's to stop a Cabbie joining Uber?...Apart from the fact , like the modern Pilot, he'll be working for less wages and poorer conditions.

Sorry, Guys, the days when you could park in The Strand and pi55 on the rear offside wheel, are gone...It's 2014 now!.

12th Jun 2014, 12:16
Indeed Cockney Steve, what are the rules worth?
Where I am in Canada, there are NO building inspections. I just designed & built my own place. You have to get an electrical, plumbing and septic check, as all of these could affect the neighbours. In the two cities, there are building inspections because your house falling down could affect the neighbours.
That said, nobody actually reports anyone, and the authorities only check when they're asked.
Just helped my neighbour build a minibarn, 12x30, out back of his garage & wire it up. Didn't bother asking for a permit - the garage wasn't permitted either.
The point about Cabbies is that TfL are reneging on their responsibilities. If they are going to permit a free-for-all, then do so for everyone, not just Uber cabs.

12th Jun 2014, 14:58
The regulated cabbies have effectively crapped in their own nest, and allowed Uber a foothold - because despite regulation, they regularly fail to meet expected standards.
SWMBO and I returned from the airport last month and the cab meter was inoperative. Of course we only found this out after a few kms.
An offence against taxi regulations, but it didn't seem to bother the African bloke driving.

Then when we reached home (after telling him the route), we were advised the fare was $38 (a little more than it should have been) - so SWMBO proffers $40 - and awaits the change.
However, out came the old chestnut, "I'm sorry, I don't have any change". :rolleyes: Talk about a proper scammer.
We should have taken his number and dobbed him in, but it was late and we were tired, and we couldn't be bothered.

Then stepdaughter tells us today, she caught a cab from Adelaide CBD to the airport early this morning.
The fare is usually around $35 - and she signed a cabcharge docket without inspecting it closely - and as the taxi drove off, she suddenly realised the docket amount was $67!!
It's a company charge account, but she reckons she will dob him in, as the docket has his cab number on it.

With stunts like this, and with the skill levels of taxi drivers declining on every front, little wonder Uber has rapidly gathered a following.

Shaggy Sheep Driver
12th Jun 2014, 16:31
That's why I prefer my car Shaggy Sheep.

I take it you're not in UK then? Venture onto the M6 or M1 (or just about most other UK motorways) and you've a 70/30 chance of spending a lot of your journey not moving. In a 3-lane car park. And with no idea when it might move again.

And even when it does, the traffic density is horrific. 3 lanes all doing between 50mph and 65mph, with chancers dodging between them to try to be in the 65mph lane, which of course keeps changing from lane 1 to lane 3. And white van man and mad BMW drivers forcing their way into a solid stream having undertaken it.

Me? I'll be relaxing in a Virgin Pendelino at 125mph sipping a G&T!