Disruption is a popular buzzword in the technology industry. It means ignoring market norms and fundamentally changing the way an industry operates. That’s fine when you’re Apple changing the way people buy their favorite Beatles song, but it’s more serious when you’re driving a two-ton vehicle on city streets.
Today, “rideshare disruptors” are sidestepping public safety regulations in the name of innovation. Thankfully, innovation can happen without being disruptive to basic public safety standards. In fact, it’s happening today in Atlanta.
By-the-rules startups like Taxi Magic and Flywheel are powering a new wave of behind-the-scenes innovation in the taxi industry. During the last four years, my company, Taxi Magic, has built a platform where consumers in more than 60 U.S. cities can tap a button on their smartphones and have a taxi driver arrive in minutes.
Our technology is making 35,000 existing taxis more efficient, more lucrative for drivers and more convenient for the riding public. Customers can report issues within the app, ensuring our support team will solve their problems and hold drivers and taxi companies accountable (or face removal from our network).
We’re bringing positive disruption to a taxi industry that previously lacked technology and reliability, and we can do all that and still protect public safety.
We welcome competition, but we want a level playing field on which to do business. We believe all providers of for-hire ground transportation should be subject to uniform rules for licensing, insurance and consumer access.
That is not the case in Atlanta today, where the highly regulated taxi industry is being out-maneuvered and out-spent by unregulated, Silicon Valley-funded rideshare companies. Their deep pockets have bought them influence with local lawmakers in the form of big-time lobbyists, who are working to make sure the field remains tilted in favor of their clients. Meanwhile, these companies operate with little oversight.
We believe public policy must protect consumers while preserving the spirit of competition that makes businesses great. In the meantime, Taxi Magic will continue to innovate within the rules and put Atlanta consumers first.
Jay McClary is executive vice president of product, marketing and operations at Taxi Magic.