Taxi tell-all

As ride-sharing apps like Uber have come under scrutiny for safety, one local cab driver weighs in. 

Uber is once again making headlines, but not for sexual harassment issues. This time, it’s for safety.

The ride-sharing app is in the news again because the suspect in the recent New York City terrorist attack was a driver for Uber. He has since been banned from driving for the company.

This is not the first time Uber has received bad press for security issues. Drivers are required to take background checks before they can register to drive for Uber, but this is not foolproof.

Though ride-sharing apps are a global reality, some local cab companies still exist. And some drivers and passengers prefer working with cab companies.  

Posted by Kathryn Sanders on Saturday, November 4, 2017

Layla is a taxi driver for Tar Heel Taxi Inc., a Chapel Hill, N.C. cab company. She’s been driving for the taxi service for about nine years, and feels safer being a driver with a cab company than being an independent contractor driving for one of the apps.

To gain employment, she went through a rigorous background check, fingerprinting and a physical. According to Ubers website, potential drivers for their app only need to pass a background check.

And it’s not just Layla, as a driver, who feels safer with a taxi. She mentioned that some passengers feel safer in a cab than an Uber. At least with a cab, Layla said, there’s “some kind of system, people have been screened.”

Another possible reason Layla feels safer working for a cab company is because she has more of an opportunity to suss out “bad situations.”

She picks up street fares, as well as taking reservations by phone, so if someone was highly intoxicated and not making sense, she would have more of an opportunity to judge whether she wants to drive that person or not.

With an app, everything is automated and the driver doesn’t neccesarily have contact with the rider in advance.

According to Layla, the biggest security issues she has had to deal with involve beligerant drunk people not being able to tell her where they live.

She said that apps like Uber and Lyft have financially hurt Tar Heel Taxi, but not too badly. Other taxi companies in the area have shut down completely. Tar Heel Taxi is “still holding on, barely,” Layla said.

The company has lost some business to the apps from the UNC-Chapel Hill student population, but overall, its target market skews more toward the “working class” people.

Overall, Layla likes the job and says it is pretty standard, just “taking people where they need to go.”