For too long, the war of words over e-hailing apps has been dominated by the Uber's bombastic CEO and fat cat taxi companies defending their turf. But filmmaker Max Maddox flips that script, exploring "the lives of drivers caught in the crosshairs" in his mini documentary "Taxi 2.0."
In the film, cabbies like John Hahn acknowledge that taxis' 50 percent success rate in picking up dispatched calls is "pretty bad." But ride sharing companies don't escape scrutiny. Uber drivers are critical of the holes in their insurance coverage. At one point, a Lyft rider even brags about her ignorance of whether her drivers are properly insured or not.
Drivers put much of the blame for the current situation on politicians and regulators. Jonah Deutschman, a former taxi driver that switched to Uber Black two years ago, feels it is unethical for Uber X drivers to operate without proper licensing. Yet he drives for Uber anyway. "It's not my fault that the city decided to not regulate Uber. It's not my fault things are they way that they are. I just want to be able to make a living."
For many, the fear is that Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft are creating a two-tier transportation network. As Barry Korengold, president of the SF Cab Drivers Association, put it:
It's one of those things that people don't realize what they've got until it's gone. When taxis are gone, there's going to be nobody to take people who don't have credit cards, don't have smart phones, aren't members of Facebook, the elderly, the disabled… TNCs don't serve any of these people.
Deutschman echoes that sentiment. "Uber is taking all the gravy. Who's picking up the old lady at the grocery store? When cab companies go bankrupt, who's going to service the para-transit people? Who's going to service the people in wheelchairs? They're going to bankrupt an industry that serves the lower-end population."