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We want Uber!!

Last week I was in San Diego for 10 days for a training course (and a couple of days holidays added to the end). I had originally planned to use day passes on public transport to get around, but it turned out that the websites painted a nicer picture of the public transport system than it was in reality and it started at the airport when the “promised” facility to buy their equivalent of a LEAP card could just not be found.

So right after arrival we had to change our plans and the options were either Taxi or Uber. The distance from the airport was about 8 miles. With a taxi that would be $24, with Uber it was $16. Not a bad start! And it just continued like that! We did about 10 Uber Trips altogether and had not a single bad experience. All drivers were extremely friendly, some were chatty, some not. All drove well and responsible and all had other jobs and only did a few hours of Uber driving per day or per week. Not once did we have to wait longer than 4 minutes until we were picked up and not once did a driver take “the scenic route” or tried to use any other trick to increase the fare (because they can’t!!).

If you don’t know how Uber operates let me explain it briefly: Uber drivers are private car owners who only need their mobile phone to become an Uber driver. When you book an Uber trip, the customer specifies the start and end point on an app and is told the full price in advance (the driver can’t change it and there are NO surcharges). The app for the driver is a SatNav system and tells the driver exactly how to get to the destination, so the driver just needs to follow the instructions. At the end of the trip you don’t pay by cash or card, instead the app sorts out all payments from your credit card to the driver. So you thank the driver and leave the car. A completely cashless system.

It is just brilliant! BUT we don’t have it and if the National Transport Authority (NTA) is not reigned in soon, they will not allow us to have Uber. Why? Because they are protecting the overpriced and regulated Taxi business. Taxis are outdated and Taxi regulation is harming, not helping customers.

You might say/think that we have Uber in Ireland, but it is a bastardised version of the proper Uber. In Ireland only licensed Taxi drivers are allowed to transport passengers for money, so Uber is just the middle man that connects you with a taxi driver via the app. It has some features of the proper Uber system because you make the contact by app, but the app doesn’t tell you what the price will be and the price is NO different than the normal taxi price. So, Uber in Ireland is not Uber and that is all thanks to the National Transport Authority (NTA).

I think the idea of Uber is brilliant and – without a doubt – it will be the private transport model that will outlive the regulated taxi industry. And in a few years we will look back and wonder “Why, oh Why did we stick to this completely outdated taxi model for such a long time when we easily could have moved to a more modern model?” Yep, I Know, it sometimes feels like living behind the moon! :-O

MyTaxi increases charges by EUR 2

I know, they would argue that they are not doing that, but if you check your wallet after using a MyTaxi Taxi, you will have EUR 2 less in it than last week, so to me that is an increase.

But let’s start that story at the beginning:
On Wednesday MyTaxi informed their customers that from midnight on that same Wednesday (Thanks for the advance warning! :-O ) MyTaxi drivers would (be allowed to) charge a EUR 2 booking fee for all bookings via the app or phone.

According to MyTaxi, they had told their drivers not to charge that fee in the past, but they are not telling them that anymore and consequently the drivers will/might add that EUR 2 now.

The charge is allowed by the National Transport Authority (NTA) which regulates the taxi fares, so MyTaxi think they are fully compliant with all rules and regulations and probably to add insult to injury, they are claiming on their website (ie.mytaxi.com/pricingpolicy) that “We’re confident that by implementing this change, mytaxi drivers will offer an ever-improving, market-leading service when you need it most.”

Ask your customers and you will be told that you aren’t providing an “ever-improving” service.

I am no expert on Taxi fare history, but it wouldn’t surprise me if that “booking fee” is from the olden days when taxis where “controlled” by radio. You rang their head office/dispatcher and the head office told the driver where to pick you up. The EUR 2 were possibly the charge the head office got. But since you can’t request a MyTaxi taxi any other way than through the app (unless you go to a taxi rank) and because that middle man is not there anymore, it might be that that booking fee is well outdated!?

Either way, it is an effective increase of EUR 2, so now before you drive a metre, you will have to pay EUR 5.60 during the day and EUR 6 at night and – as I reported last week in the Dublin News section of the Dublin Event Guide – this charge will increase in February to EUR 5.80 and EUR 6.00.

I hope we will get the proper Uber service soon (not the crippled Uber service that we have currently)! It seems that some taxi competition is urgently needed. I am aware that Uber is not perfect either and the fact that they lost their license for London in the last few days shows this clearly, but I’d think Uber is fixable.

Tacsaí!? Wie bitte?

I have been intrigued by this for some while….

If you have ever been abroad in a non-English speaking country, I am sure that you have witnessed business owners and their employees going out their way to serve/greet/help you in English instead of their native language. They do whatever they can, to accommodate you. And if you are a business owner or have ever considered to start a business, you probably have thought about what name you would choose. Most think, it should be a name that is easily recognisable, understandable, pronounceable and that ideally provides some relevant information about what you do to your customers.

And then you see a car with “TACSAI” written on the side! :-O

Taxi drivers can choose if they want to have the big sticker on the front door of their Taxi in English or in Irish. The vast majority chooses English (and possibly considers the points above), but a surprisingly large amount of Taxis in Dublin use the Irish language version “Tacsaí”. And the ones that choose Tacsai seem to go against all logical reasons for choosing a specific business name as a service provider in an industry that particularly serves a very international audience. Unsurprisingly – but somewhat inconsistently – they won’t greet you with “Conas atá tú?” when you enter the taxi, but their brand on the outside is not at all considering to accommodate their international customer base.

Without a doubt you might think of “800 years of occupation” and “forced adoption of English” as reasons why some prefer the Irish language brand, but there are also other countries in this world where English was forced upon the population and you probably won’t be too surprised that Indian taxis are called “Taxi” despite the role of Britain in their history.

Even more puzzling, though, is why the word “Tacsai” even exists! The word “taxa” is originally Latin and means “charging”. That word was used in 1890 in Germany to make “Taxameter”, an automatic meter to record the distance and fare. So does “Tacsai” have the same root? Does it go back to the Latin “taxa”? No, not at all! It is a made up word that tries to copy but be different at the same time.

I’d say the Irish that is used nowadays could easily live with some “foreign” words like “Taxi”. It hasn’t done any harm to all the other languages that just use the word “Taxi”. But there seems to be a flavour of Irish speakers that seem to have to translate EVERYTHING just for the sake of it. After all there is even a word for “Internet”, one of these olden Gaelic communication concepts, you know!? In case you want to know, it is the “Idirghréasán”. Oddly, force-translating modern words makes Irish more outdated than if it just adopted the words!

 
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