LETTER: Destin anti-Uber Taxi regulations

Letter | Jim L. Keeler
Letter to the editor

The motivation of the Destin City Council members to regulate Taxi operators is clearly the result of Uber goring a local operator’s ox. The city council apparently has little to do except to grow governmental control and hire the needed additional employees to implement that control at the expense of local transportation customers that desire the most cost effective transport.

Uber ride sharing is a beautiful business model and is the singular result of marginal performance by taxi operators. Every customer who gets in my car is so grateful that Uber is available so that they do not have to choose a taxi. Customers express that they feel safer with Uber, feel Uber has better drivers, cars are cleaner, drivers are more congenial, payment is automatic and calculated automatically by a preset formula.

Recently I observed eight Uber cars available during an evening in Destin. I have no idea of how many others were busy carrying passengers at the time.

Uber capitalization is $50 billion, which is equal to GM and slightly smaller than Ford. This does not include cars and drivers who are 3rd party contractors. There are more than 160,000 Uber drivers in the USA. Uber is in 60 countries.

Uber’s goal is to add 1 million female drivers (partners) by 2020. You may use your smart phone app to hail an Uber car in Destin, Pensacola, London, France, Italy, China or most other places in the world. Please feel free to use my customer code "azeqo" to receive $20 off your 1st ride or to become an Uber driver that costs you absolutely nothing.

A university president in Atlanta recently became an Uber driver primarily to explore and understand the business model. I suggest Destin City Council members sign up to become Uber drivers which takes about 10 minutes and costs nothing so that they can better understand the business model and the customer satisfaction that they are considering aggravating.

I get hailed from Destin several times daily to go 25 minutes to Destin for pick-ups. I often convince the customer to cancel and request a local taxi. Uber does driver checks for sexual predator, child molester, DUI, felonies, excessive motor vehicle record violations, insurance, registration, vehicle condition and age of vehicle. Uber provides $1 million of commercial insurance for periods from when passenger hails driver until passenger drop off.

Okaloosa County Commissioners established ordnance prohibiting Uber ride sharing drivers from picking up on Destin Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS). I get calls everyday requesting VPS pick-ups. Ninety-eight percent of the customers are more than happy to walk off of VPS property in order to get an Uber car.

This is a dreadful situation indeed in order to protect over-priced taxi drivers who are already parking waiting for customers at a greatly reduced short term parking rate compared to the general public. Elected government officials and worker bureaucrats should let free markets prevail.

As long as smart phone apps are conveniently available, customers will use them to get the best deal possible for their needed local transportation. Please let free market conditions prevail in Destin and Okaloosa County after investigating this problem more thoroughly.

Jim L. Keeler