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Tucker: Uber vs. taxis

Posted: January 22, 2015 9:34 a.m.
Updated: January 23, 2015 1:00 a.m.


You’ve probably heard of Uber, the ride-sharing service taking the world’s cities by storm.

Uber, using a smartphone app, has become a popular alternative to taxis. It offers speedy, convenient service to people in metropolitan areas -- clean cars, quick pickup, friendly and efficient drivers.

Customers love Uber. Urban governments hate it because they can’t get their fingers on a portion of the company’s revenue via taxes.

That’s not why they say they hate it. Instead, they talk about lack of regulation and standards, referring to the “high level of training and professionalism” offered by city-regulated taxi companies.

Say what? The words taxi and standards in the same sentence? Puh-lease.

Hey, here’s what the Uber training manual advises its drivers: keep your car clean, pick up your passengers on  time, drive safely, be cheerful, charge a reasonable fare and know how to get from one location to another.

Fairly simple, eh?

But here’s what the taxi training manual for New York City -- and other metropolitan areas, too -- looks like:

Horn honking: The horn’s there to use. Don’t let it sit idle or it will become inoperative. Quick reaction is the key; when a traffic light changes to green, don’t let a nanosecond pass before showering down on the horn; it’s the only way you can scare the wits out of the driver in front of you.

Gesturing:  Flashing obscene hand signals to other drivers and pedestrians is a basic skill you must quickly learn. The single-digit salute works best. For maximum effect, you must roll the window down and get your hand all the way outside. Yelling an obscenity at the same time adds pizzazz to your gestures.

Turban wearing: Your turban lacks character if it doesn’t have a few well-placed stains on it. Pouring coffee over the top of it will help its appearance. So will dropping various food products -- bananas and chocolate work particularly well -- and grinding them into the surface of the turban.

Properly odorizing your car: If your customers -- “fares,” in your lingo -- don’t have to squinch up their noses in reaction to the smell of your taxi, you aren’t providing them with full service. Spreading a bit of dog dooey on the floor mats is the easiest way to achieve this effect. It also helps if you don’t take a shower more than once a week.

Showering: Never, ever more than once a week.

Brake slamming and stop-and-go driving: You won’t be considered a skillful hack if you accelerate and brake your taxi smoothly. Be sure to provide your fares the full thrill of an urban taxi ride with lurches, skids, near-misses and screeching rubber.

Meter jiggling: If your customer has any idea of how much the ride is going to cost, you’re falling down on the job. Upon resetting the meter to zero as a fare sits down in the back seat, immediately hit all the “extra charges” keys (such as the “after 10 p.m. surcharge,” even if it’s only noon)  and watch their faces contort in confusion. Now that’s how to do it, and you’ll find your profits will increase quickly.

English as a ninth language: In the unlikely event you speak English, don’t let your customers know. If you do, you’ll have to explain to them why you’re taking the “scenic route” to their destination and adding an extra 20 bucks to the fare.

Lane changing: Never ride in the same lane more than a hundred yards. Even if it’s 4 a.m. and the streets are deserted, you must switch lanes constantly, often with a violent jerk of the cab. Your customers will appreciate your expertise.

So there you have it: a clear choice between taxis and Uber.

Just remember: if you choose the taxi route, keep an eye on the meter. After all, you don’t want to get jiggled.



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