There were so many stories cluttering up the news cycle this weekend having to do with the new executive orders on immigration (and the ensuing protests) that it was hard to keep track of them all. One of the less covered ones, however, caught my attention because it involved New York’s taxi companies and Uber. (Lyft got in on the act later.) In their usual, “helpful” way, taxi companies declared a “strike” in protest of President Trump’s immigration policies and were not taking fares at JFK airport. They then went on social media to point out that Uber was still doing business at the airport and had even canceled their surge pricing during that normally busy period, leading to a bunch of enraged liberals deleting the Uber app from their phones. (Business Insider)
Thousands of Uber customers are deleting the app and posting the evidence to social media after drivers tried to do business at JFK airport during a taxi strike…
Many users noted that Uber still appeared to be servicing riders during the strike from 6 to 7 p.m. The company also tweeted after the strike saying it had halted higher fares that normally kick in during periods of increased demand.
In response, people began deleting Uber from their phones and posting the evidence to Facebook and Twitter using hashtag #deleteUber.
If you think that the NY Taxi Workers Alliance is overly concerned about immigration policy and human rights or taking a leading role in the fight to be on the “right side of history” I’ll be happy to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge. The idea that a “strike” by the cabbies was going to somehow facilitate the protest is asinine. And what of the the other passengers (who I would be willing to bet included some other immigrants not from the list of seven blocked countries) who were simply trying to get home? The timing of the taxi union’s social media purge is rather suspect as well. Might they have had another motive for this action? Perhaps it’s the fact that Uber is currently crushing the cab companies in the ground transportation market. Getting a bunch of New Yorkers to delete their Uber app might be seen as an opportunity for something other than “social justice.”
We could simply apply Occam’s Razor to that question, but there was another hint as to what a bonanza this opportunistic stunt was. Guess who else jumped onto the dog pile as soon as this news broke? Uber’s chief competitor in the ride sharing market, Lyft. (Gizmodo)
Following Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s limp response to Trump’s “Muslim ban,” Lyft has decided to put its money where its mouth is. The ridesharing rival announced today that it will donate a million dollars to the ACLU to “defend our constitution.”
How noble of Lyft to “defend our constitution” in a very public way just as a hashtag was trending which encouraged people to bail out on their chief competitor. But yeah… I’m sure that was all a big coincidence, right? Oh, and while we’re on the subject of the sharing economy, airbnb got in on the act, offering free overnight stays to refugees affected by the ban.
So what did Uber wind up doing in response? Seeing the potential for losing business, they almost immediately caved. (KTLA)
Uber pushed back against President Trump’s immigration ban, after taking serious heat on social media for its initial response.
CEO Travis Kalanick tweeted Sunday afternoon that Trump’s travel ban from seven Muslim-majority countries “is against everything Uber stands for.” He said the ban affects thousands of Uber drivers.
Kalanick said Uber would compensate drivers for lost earnings if they’re unable to work because of the ban. Uber also set up a $3 million legal defense fund for the “wrong and unjust” ban.
I wouldn’t expect this to have much impact on Uber’s overall market share if for no other reason than the fact that taxi service is generally just so abysmal by comparison. Uber is number one for a reason and if they have to put out a couple of press releases to assuage hurt feelings it won’t cost them anything to do so. Still, it’s a sad statement about how quickly these SJW stunts can be twisted into an opportunity to mess with the free market. But in any event, don’t fall for the hype as this story is repeated on cable news this week. This had little or nothing to do with the immigration ban and everything to do with the taxi companies’ efforts to not get run down by the new wave of ride sharing technology.