Uber had been, until recently, effectively outlawed in Vancouver (history). I took a taxi(!) to the airport there on September 12 and asked the driver how he felt about the impending Uberstorm.
He was an unskilled, though English-speaking, immigrant who rented the taxi from the medallion owner at a fixed price and then his earnings were dependent on the vicissitudes of the market. How much was a medallion worth? “It used to be $500,000,” he replied, “but now they’re down to $50,000.” (Vancouver Sun says that the peak was C$1 million).
Due to the fact that prices for taxi rides were high enough to pay the rent on a C$1 million asset (the medallion), consumers used taxis only as a last resort and drivers ended up netting more or less the market-clearing wage for unskilled immigrant labor. With lower prices, the driver expected to be working more and keeping everything but the car costs.
- California AB 5, a new law that is intended to force Uber to treat drivers as W-2 workers (ironically leaving drivers of traditional taxis, who have to rent from medallion owners, as supposedly modern “gig” workers)