The Good and Bad of Uber

January 20, 2015

2014 was a rough year for Uber in terms of public relations. Its Senior VP Emil Michael was caught making questionable comments about digging up dirt on journalists, the company was accused of making subprime loans to drivers, and one of its drivers assaulted a rider with a hammer. Add to that the growing media outrage over its surge pricing, the increasing questions about liability in light of the death of a six-year-old child in San Francisco, and its ongoing legislation battles, Uber has not been looking too good to the public.

Companies like Uber and Lyft are often coined as “ride-share” companies, but the Associated Press has recently corrected the term to “ride-hailing service” to more accurately portray the service that Uber provides. Unlike car-share companies where users actually share their cars, Uber users don’t share a ride–it’s more like a taxi service.

And taxi services are the ones who have been most affected by the success of Uber. Traditional taxi services monopolized the realm of for-hire transportation for decades. Without competition, their equipment became outdated and their service subpar. The appearance of companies like Uber and Lyft has forced traditional taxis to improve their operations in order to reduce wait times and make it easier to hail cabs and pay for rides. In addition, Uber has had a definite effect on American cities by providing affordable, reliable transportation. It reduces the need for car ownership and makes accessible parts of cities that were once more difficult to get to.

Last week, Uber announced its intent to share their trip data with local governments, starting with Boston. Cities are eager to have this data. Uber is able to collect information on locations, travel time, and time of day for rides: information that can be used to understand travel patterns and improve transit in cities. With all of its legislative and PR troubles, this move could help Uber and other ride hailing companies argue the benefits they have for cities.

Listen to the Talking Headways Podcast


…the first thing I read every morning is the newsletter to see what’s been out there. It’s great to have an aggregator that pulls everything together so nicely.

Joe Cortright, City Observatory

I think that the email newsletter that you do every morning is the best one that I get, and I get a lot of them.

Mary Newsom, The UNC Charlotte Urban Institute

Really is the best daily urban newsletter out there.

Eric Jaffe, Editorial Director Sidewalk Labs


To Receive The Overhead Wire in Your Inbox Daily

Premium Daily Subscription

The Premium Daily Subscription is our most information packed offering, chock full of over 30 pieces of news every single day. Included are popular features such as the quote of the day and the most read article from the previous day. Also included is our weekly roundup for times when you are strapped for time but need to know what’s going on.

Premium Weekly Subscription

The Premium Weekly Subscription is for professionals constantly under a time crunch. We take the most read items from the week before and share them with subscribers along with more in depth analysis of a single popular topic.

Learn More and Subscribe

Top Links

of the past 48 hours

Video of the Day

Friends of The Overhead Wire

Back To Top

Welcome to The Overhead Wire

What Can We Help You Find?

Try Our Newsletter For Free