The lobbying firm, “Strategies 360,” with a local office run by newly elected Boise School Board member Brian Cronin, has a special service to offer it’s apparent new client Uber.
That “special service” is ACCESS to city officials on behalf of the new gypsy cab scheme which debuted Thursday in Boise.
It doesn’t take much to connect the dots. Cronin’s political history includes numerous deals with Boise Mayor Dave Bieter. Cronin was awarded the lucrative contract to lobby on behalf of Boise City by Team Dave and has been active in Bieter political campaigns.
Casey Bender — formerly Casey Shelley — was also prominent in past Bieter political campaigns and fundraising. She is now listed as a staffer of Cronin’s Strategies 360 firm.
Her e-mail address was listed on the RSVP invitation to the Uber launch party.
Uber is a scheme which matches potential taxi passengers with owners of private autos interested in making extra cash. In Boise, fares include a $2.50 base fare, 25 cents per minute plus $1.75 per mile. You need to provide a credit card prior to riding and no money changes hands between driver and passenger. Uber takes a 20% cut of the action as we understand it.
The Uber taxi scheme has both proponents and opponents throughout the world. At first blush, it sounds cool to be able to use your smart phone to summon a ride and watch its progress to your location on the GPS screen.
Most cities have licensing requirements for taxis, but Uber essentially eliminates that step by claiming to require drivers to have insurance, a late model vehicle, a valid driver’s license and a background check. Boise’s taxi licenses are more stringent.
The city has decided to allow Uber to do a test market–competing directly with currently licensed taxis. Boise coppers have been instructed to refer all complaints to the city clerk (where cabs are licensed).
If it is “successful,” we see the distinct possibility of Uber dominating the taxi market, including currently licensed taxis which will be forced to join Uber or wither away. Uber will then walk away with a tidy 20% of the market dollars and not to buy cars, insurance, or pay drivers. Nice work if you can get it. This proves FARE may not be FAIR.
It may also be just as simple to run private cars in lieu of buses and just have an app to coordinate it. Think about it, eliminate the bus system and the various permutations of “circulator, trolley, street car, or train.” We can all be either passengers or drivers and not have to pay the outrageous taxes for buses and drivers — the private car owners get to pay.
The scheme is brilliant, but the “monopoly” aspect is troublesome.
FORBES has a well done discussion of the concept.
WIKIPEDIA has a well researched and documented account of the UBER story. There is as much bad as good to read.
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