Drivers should be more interested in keeping passengers safe and comfortable
There’s a reason why Montrealers have been using more Ubers than taxis in recent years. The Uber app makes it easier for users and drivers to find each other, because their locations are shared through the app.
According to documents obtained by Le Journal de Montréal on March 23, the number of cab drivers filing for bankruptcy in Quebec has tripled since the arrival of Uber in 2014. I believe it’s due to taxis’ lack of accessibility. In the city, people can catch a cab driving down a street or hop into one in a designated waiting area. However, once you’re in a residential area, you have to call a cab company, because the odds of seeing a free cab passing by are unlikely. So, people turn to Ubers.
Waiting for an empty cab to drive down a busy street is something people want to avoid nowadays. Think about it—we have reached a point where we are used to finding the things we need in almost no time, thanks to our smartphones. I believe cab companies should hop on the technology train—or should I say Uber train—to stay accessible. The fact that people can split the fare of their ride is an added plus for Ubers. Although some taxi companies, such as Diamond Taxi, have location and prepaid services, I believe all taxi companies should advertise for it more.
All these technological advances in Ubers, like the location access, the direct payment and the option to split fares, make it an efficient application. However, Uber drivers can be and are often less experienced compared to taxi drivers. Both types of drivers go through a similar vetting process. Both are required to hold a Class C4 driver’s license, speak and read French and have no criminal record. However, Uber drivers only have eight online modules of training compared to the 150 hours of mandatory training Montreal taxi drivers have to go through. Taxi drivers’ training covers 53 hours of taxi transport regulations, 50 hours of geography and topography training and seven hours of training for transportation of a disabled person.
While I take Ubers due to their easy access, almost every Uber driver I ride with has harshly swerved on turns or ran red lights. Sometimes, they’ve made illegal turns. In other words, their “driving etiquette” isn’t perfect. I believe these drivers need a lot more training. On multiple occasions, I have had to change my destination to a closer one and get out of an Uber earlier because of reckless driving. This lack of professionalism has made me feel unsafe in Ubers.
To be fair, many Uber drivers have the “entertainment” aspect down in their cars. Some offer water bottles, phone chargers, and many have an AUX cord at their disposal for their passengers to blast their own music during the ride. In other cases, they are more interested in starting conversations and playing music than focusing on the road. While these additions are nice perks, I don’t believe they are a priority.
When an Uber ride begins, the GPS automatically creates a route, which often seems to take detours that make the ride longer than it should be. According to an Uber customer service agent, “If you have a specific route in mind, you can always request that your driver follow those directions.” Yet, when I ask the driver to follow my directions, I am either ignored or even told, “No, you don’t know how to get there.” Most of the times my destination is my own home, and these detours result in a more expensive ride.
Ultimately, neither taxis nor Ubers are perfect, but taxi companies should take advantage of the technology available in today’s world to make their service accessible to more people. As for Uber, their drivers need to have more extensive training to make sure their passengers are more comfortable during the ride.
Graphic by Zeze Le Lin