Like most fatally obsolete industries — video rental stores, cargo pants manufacturers, Kardashian-based reality television (fingers crossed) — the taxi industry is experiencing a slow, noisy, and undignified death. On Wednesday, the old yellow cab, much like the old yellow dog, was taken behind the farm house for a merciful nudge toward oblivion.
As reported by Crain’s New York Business, on Wednesday, a New York state Supreme Court Justice struck down the taxi industry’s challenge of “e-hail” regulations that allow car-service companies like Uber to operate in New York City. State Supreme Court Justice Allan Weiss wrote in his ruling: (via The New York Daily News)
Any expectation that the (taxi) medallion would function as a shield against the rapid technological advances of the modern world would not have been reasonable.
And though taxi industry lawyers are sure to throw around appeal motions like Pacman Jones, this legal decision is another important step toward increasing Uber access for travelers. Despite Uber being a bit (sometimes a lot) shady, and the sadness of taxi drivers losing their livelihood (even the ones who are brick-throwing a-holes), Uber is more convenient, more comfortable, and in almost every way, just better than a traditional taxi.
On a personal note, I’m thrilled. Sure, I’ve had good moments in taxis (having a “taxista” in Puerto Vallarta repeatedly and loudly tell me that “if J.K. Rowling has one castle, you should have two!” remains one of my favorite, if most baffling, interactions), but there have been many, many more bad experiences. And on countless nights, I have had to walk the entire drunken, slope-filled mile back home from the bar with my neck craned back and my hand held high for a cab I knew would never come. Granted, I live in Los Angeles, and taxi availability is terrible.
Since downloading Uber, I know I can have my car arranged before I even finish my last beer. Uber (and Lyft and whatever comes next) has given me a choice for hiring cars. Competing with these companies is a crippling, and (likely) fatal development for the traditional taxi industry, but as a consumer, choice is always a very good thing.
I hope this ruling will lead to further expansion for Uber and similar companies in even more cities in America and abroad. Because not only will this make traveling infinitely easier and more comfortable, but widespread use of the app will also put some of the most common tourist-baiting scams out of business.
When I need to hire a car, I’m going to use Uber, and when I’m traveling, I will use it wherever the service is available. Not because I want taxi drivers to suffer, but because the alternative is simply better. And as sad as the extinction of the taxi industry may be, sometimes extinction happens for a reason.