I was just watching Diana Swain on the CBC News Network. She was reporting on the large cab-driver protests against Uber that took place this morning in the Toronto downtown core. In particular, a CBC cameraperson managed to record1 a cab driver beside a white Honda, claiming “This is UberX,“2 as he gestured at the car. The cab driver then started pounding on the driver’s window, and then tried to open the driver’s door. The Honda driver, seeing the clearly aggressive actions of the cab driver, took off. The cab driver somehow managed to hook his arm forward over the side mirror and got it to bear his weight so he went along for the ride. Perhaps twenty metres later, the Honda driver stopped for a red light, the cab driver let go, and the Honda took off through the red light, leaving the cab driver standing in the middle of the street. Frankly, I don’t blame the Honda driver. I would have done the same thing.

A reporter talked to the cab driver and when asked about his ridiculous and dangerous behaviour, he explained it by saying,

We are trying to get a point across, that’s what we’re trying to do3

I’d suggest that his means of getting the point across is entirely inappropriate.

Swain also interviewed a taxi company owner. In particular, she said to him that she was in traffic downtown for two hours because of their protest and asked if this was the way to get support from the general public. His answer, and I kid you not, was “I’m sorry for any inconvenience we may have caused you.” I call bullshit. The whole point of the protest was to cause inconvenience. Like Swain, I question the means they used because I wasn’t even in the traffic, but what they did lessens any small feelings of sympathy I may have felt for the cab drivers.

They’re not doing themselves any favours as Toronto Mayor John Tory asked cab drivers to “stand down.” He went on,

There is no excuse for putting the safety of the public at risk, for blocking ambulances and first responders, for police officers being knocked to the ground.4

Sajid Mugha, of the iTaxi Workers Association said “If someone was stealing your food, how would you feel?“5 This is the crux of the drivers’ argument, but they’re attacking the problem in the wrong way. Consumers who use Uber see it as more convenient and cheaper. People want value for their money and the employees behind the more expensive entrenched system will find no sympathy by claiming the new service is stealing their food.

This is just the beginning of the problems for the taxi drivers. The taxi industry will be fine, but once self-driving cars make their debut, it’s only a matter of time before taxi companies have them outfitted with payment systems and dispense with drivers entirely.

  1. Taxi driver confronts Uber driver” video posted on cbc.ca, December 9, 2015.
  2. Cab driver pounds on Uber car, dragged 20 metres in Toronto protest” by CBC News, posted on cbc.ca, December 9, 2015
  3. ibid
  4. Anti-uber taxi drivers’ tactics ‘not acceptable,’ Mayor John Tory says” by CBC News, posted on cbc.ca, December 9, 2015
  5. Cab driver pounds on Uber car, dragged 20 metres in Toronto protest” by CBC News, posted on cbc.ca, December 9, 2015