Don’t count on technology any more.
More than anything, it disrupts before creates what is called in passing these days as a new ‘normal’. And that new normal is hardly settling as it once was.
Just what has technology wrought; reminiscent of what Samuel Morse said upon discovering the Morse Code in the 19th Century.
When bus conductors were made redundant in the 1970s – all by courtesy of technological innovations – it is now seemingly or inadvertently become the turn of taxi drivers to bear the new brunt of technology and what it now threatens to sweep away.
Private rental car hire companies have ballooned over the last two years. They have been characterised by the ease with which they become available but mobile applications in hand phones have made them the transport of choice. What is more they are also cheap and certainly value for money.
Uber drivers do not need to worry about insurance, the number of kilometres they need to log in or least of all, worry of the need to switch vehicles to relief drivers or even have a vocational licence. What is uniquely magnificent of it all, is that they enjoy complete freedom and as they are ubiquitous there is none of the markings on their vehicles to denote any kind of a company affiliation.
Therefore, is it any wonder that people would hurl themselves into becoming Uber drivers? It perhaps is one of the most facile of jobs for what one can do at the drop of a hat, is simply become one! All one needs is a driving licence which millions in Singapore do have. What is more they are not regulated. That means they cannot be complained against?
While taxi-drivers may not have rioted in the streets or overturned cars as was once seen in parts of the world, they sure are an endangered species in so far as Singapore goes.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in May Day Rally speech last year said of Uber, “They use the data, they analyse demand patterns, and they understand consumers and markets well. They organize, getting the riders, the drivers and the cars together and they provide a good service. It is very challenging for existing taxi operators”.
Those are new ways of doing business and those new ways have disrupted our old models and processes and our existing companies, he added.
That acknowledgement coming from Prime Minister himself, means something is out of the ordinary for cab drivers.
Will they have a future or lose what they have been doing all these years?