Brief description: There are now more Uber cars (14,088) on the streets of New York City than traditional Taxi cars (13,587) as revealed in data from New York Taxi and Limousine Commission data.
There are still more daily rides in taxis as taxi driver shifts tend to be longer due to the full time nature of taxi drivers vs the part time (gig economy) nature of Uber operators.
How could the future be different as a result?:
This trend is a widening inverse relationship of Uber cars versus taxis. This data may signal a tipping point towards solidification of this sector change as a preferable future for Uber (and potential stakeholders positioned to gain from this culture shift) and an unwelcome plausible future for taxi companies and other yet to adequately catch up entities. This possible watershed event in the disruption of this particularly large market is not on the horizon, it as an actual event in a trend with impacts here now.
On the experience side: Riders who may experience more pleasant rides, less haggling over fares and scrambling for tips, and less drivers refusing credit may take more car for hire rides impacting mass transit, traffic, etc.
After dozens, perhaps hundreds of Uber rides, I have come to realize that the innovation of Uber is one of human interaction and customer service more so than technology. In the Social category more than the Technological. Perhaps the Uber model of customer experience will see wider adoption. Perhaps the Uberization of everything is really about customer service and a smooth ecosystem.
The New Normative Future: In this confirming scenario the baseline future is one of more distributed driver/workers and app based transit requests with the transport experience happening entirely in-ecosystem (from hailing to tracking to payment). This is the expected future.
The Next: The alternative future is an extension of this to wider industries and to deeper applications within transit. Uber for more deliveries, Uber for internet connectivity and content (print and electronic), the two way ratings system applied wider, gig economy applied to diverse industries, the confluence of automated cars and on request rides etc.
There are many first and second order stakeholders ready to pivot in the context of these change signals. Stakeholders directly related in the transit and transport industries and extend to stakeholders connected by thematic business models (Economic), regulation concerns (Political), and partnership growths.
Cultural and technological weak signals abound. The wild cards driven by imagination will be fascinating to watch.
Regulation and policy trend breaks will be watched closely for acceptance of disruptions into more areas of metropolitan life.
What preferred futures do we now want to design outcomes, organize, and act for?
Relatedly: I found it fascinating that as of very recently, potential taxi drivers are no longer required to face the extensive and rigorous geography test. Their certification instead now focuses on GPS usage and navigating with a map in a “practical modernization” to catch “up to the times.”
This not only marks the impact of location connected technology and connected cars and shifts in attention, it also represents a professional skills shift. In radically different models within the larger field the competition could also be thought to be London cab drivers with there advanced geography training if the markets over lapped. Every industry faces these skills shifts as the cultural impacts of technology filter into workplace performance and as has long been asked – in a near red herring example, could librarians for instance no longer need graduate school in the age of Google searching?
This adaptation could be more about competition for driver hires in the face of recruitment competition from Uber etc (many Uber drivers have told me how happy they were to move from driving cabs to driving for Uber).
-Joe Murphy Librarian