Posted by Leonard Steinberg on January 10th, 2015

UBER hit New York like a ton of bricks just a few short years ago, turning the whole industry upside down by actually making it easy and seamless to hire a car/limo within minutes, often less. UBER had been an inspiration to us at URBAN COMPASS in many ways. Now there are many complaints that the dirty, rude, uncomfortable, inexperienced, bad-driving cab rides are being replaced by……dirty, rude, uncomfortable, inexperienced, bad-driving UBER rides. LYFT is delivering a similar product. Disruption without strict quality standards can reverse fortunes.

This last week I had several cab driver complain that their business was sharply down: the sharp drop in cab medallion pricing (about 25%)probably reflects this trend. Oddly, cabs are a little cleaner than before. The drivers are friendlier. Competition works. The only way the cab industry can survive and thrive is if they initiate a STRICT quality control system, forcing cabs to get educated about driving skills, directions, keeping cabs spotless, only using cars that are comfortable and practical for human use and coming up with an alternative shift change system so that at peak hours of the day consumers are not left stranded on the streets of New York wondering if they have landed in a banana republic.

Personally I have been tempted to get a car with driver for years, and many of my colleagues have this as we brokers tend to schlepp around quite a bit. My conscience over-rides this desire: the thought of a car and driver sitting idle for hours at a time on the side of the road, further congesting the city and spewing fumes into our air truly offends me. In this modern world, the concept of shared vehicles is simply the only answer. Some of my very wealthiest billionaire clients who could afford hundreds of cars and drivers choose to use UBER or cabs instead. Now its time for UBER and the cab industry to be very careful…..if a third party were to step in and consistently deliver REALLY clean and comfortable cars and REALLY educated drivers, I know there is an audience, myself included, who would be happy paying the premium.