Here’s a thing we’ve noticed: Every few days, without exception, someone in Vancouver takes to Twitter and voices their frustration with the fact we don’t have ride-sharing services such as Uber or Lyft.
Usually, these cries into the abyss are accompanied by photos of people queueing for taxis outside YVR and the familiar refrain, “We need Uber and Lyft now!”
The fact there’s a pretty great rapid transit line station a two-minute walk away is rarely mentioned. Perhaps their destination is not connected to rapid transit or it’s after 1:30 a.m. and the trains have stopped running, which are problems in their own right. Regardless, these public ventings have become tiresome, predictable and completely self-serving.
We’ve also noticed that a number of inconvenienced journalists — current and former — seem to have no qualms picking a side on this contentious issue.
Tried to book a cab for a certain time to get to a wedding this evening. Called more than two hours in advance. Taxi company can’t guarantee they’ll send a cab in time because it’s quite busy. But no we don’t need Uber or Lyft in Vancouver.— Marsha Lederman (@marshalederman) July 20, 2018
I must say -@Uber in Palm Springs was fantastic! Fast - efficient - affordable - friendly. It’s simply ridiculous (read politics) that Vancouver is the only major North American city that doesn’t have it.— Lynda Steele (@steeletalk) March 3, 2018
Another disgraceful taxi lineup at YVR ... at least 45 mins I’m told. Well done NDP, well done. pic.twitter.com/SrBllk23uw— Gary Mason (@garymasonglobe) April 12, 2019
Don’t get us wrong. We’ve used Uber when we’ve visited a number of American cities, and we’ve enjoyed it. We’d likely use it if it were in Vancouver. But the notion that we “need” this thing that has only come into existence in the last 10 years reminds us of a certain joke by a certain disgraced stand-up comedian about people complaining about how bad the Wi-Fi is on an airplane moments after learning the airplane offered Wi-Fi.
Sure, ride sharing offers more travel options than taxis, public transit and walking, but generations have managed to survive without it. That doesn’t mean we should deny ourselves the convenience of ride sharing, but let’s get a grip.
Another thing often brought up in these Twitter rants is the so-called taxi lobby or #cartel, if they really want to get clever. Yes, the taxi industry does lobby government and, yes, it contributes to election campaigns of candidates from all stripes. But you know who else lobbies governments, the media and the general public to gain support for their cause? The ride-sharing industry. And they are a pretty profitable one.
When someone who can afford to fly around in airplanes and pay for cabs laments the lack of Uber or Lyft and declares that B.C. needs it, like, right now, what they’re really saying is this: “More people need to enter the gig economy — which isn’t always so hot for those trying to eke out a living in it, and to hell with the workers it might displace — to better service my needs and make my life more convenient… right now, and if that doesn’t happen, I’m going to throw a public hissy fit.”
Perhaps that’s too many characters for one Twitter post.