Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Reed: 'Uber's going to win' against the taxicab industry

Posted By on Wed, Jul 2, 2014 at 10:50 AM

Not too long ago, Mayor Kasim Reed took a ride in his very first Uber car. He was so impressed with his experience that he's now predicting that the car service will be around for the long haul.

Across the country, Uber, Lyft, and other car services - they call themselves "technology companies" - have been pulling business from the taxi industry. The companies that own the yellow-and-black chariots, which have been subject to regulations for better or worse over the years, are trying to hold onto their longstanding market share. Now those taxi companies have pushed city and state lawmakers to create new laws to clamp down on the expansion of Uber, Lyft, and other car services.

Until recently, Reed has kept quiet about his stance toward the taxi industry's fight in Georgia. Earlier this year, his spokesman noted to CL that regulation needed to be addressed at the state level. Vehicles would still have to adhere to applicable laws. But In a recent interview with The Atlantic, he expressed his love (literally) for the transportation startup:

I think they're going to fight a 15 round fight, and I think that Uber's going to win. And the taxicab industry is going to have to change and get more flexible.

But in the interim, they're going to flat out fight it out, and mayors are going to be in the middle of it, because the taxicab industry is so old and staid and never had real competition, and now it's being forced to innovate.

Uber has a real challenge. Uber has to maintain the level of quality that made Uber the brand it is today. And I think that at this point in the life cycle of that business, and that space, they haven't had time to go out there and do 5 years and 7 years and 8 years to see, is your Uber experience the same. Because I had one the other day that was pretty close to a cab. So they're going to have to fight that out. I know that I'm going to get a mean letter, Uber.

I love you.

Back in February, state Rep. Alan Powell, R-Hartwell, introduced a measure would have heavily regulated Uber and Lyft. The bill didn't gain enough traction under the Gold Dome to become law. Powell, however, was able to create a special committee to study the issue more thoroughly. The debate could easily return in 2015.

In the past, Reed has vowed to champion startup interests. Perhaps Uber and Lyft will have an ally when the debate over their future in Georgia resumes.

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