• Transportation in Focus
  • March 19, 2015
  • Law Firm: McDonald Hopkins LLC - Cleveland Office
  • An ugly war: Taxis vs. Uber

    The long running war between traditional taxis and upstarts like Uber has gotten even uglier. The public face of the taxis is its trade group - the Taxicab, Limousine, and Paratransit Association (TLPA) - and that trade group has hired a Bethesda, Maryland-based PR firm to create a media campaign entitled "Who's Driving You?"

    The goal of the campaign is to bring attention to what the taxi companies say are unsafe and illegal business practices by Uber. The PR firm scans the news for any incidents that make Uber look bad or unsafe and then distributes those bits of information in press releases sent to local and national media outlets.

    It's not just a PR campaign for the traditional taxi and limo companies, but also a comprehensive lobby strategy aimed at pulling Uber into the regulatory maze it has sought to avoid.

    Uber has eschewed local and state regulations that traditional taxi and limo companies must contend with by claiming they are a technology company, not a transportation company. Uber's approach has generally been to launch services in new areas regardless of the pre-existing rules regulating taxis and then leverage its popularity and success with the public to force regulators to adapt to Uber, rather than the other way around. So far, the approach has been incredibly successful, with Uber valued at $40 billion.

    The traditional taxi and limousine companies aren't banking on beating the upstart Uber, indeed many are hoping just to buy time to allow themselves to develop the technology to compete with Uber in this new app-driven space.