A surprising move leaves many industry insiders shocked, after , a Taxi and Limousine Commission office switched to the mobile based taxi startup, Uber. Ashwini Chhabra was the deputy commissioner for policy and planning at the Taxi and Limousine Commission. A couple of weeks ago, Ashwini announced that his new position at Uber will be head of policy development and community engagement. This move seems to illustrate a more cooperative relationship between the TLC and Uber.
The TLC is infamous for squashing innovation and newcomers to the industry. Uber moved to NYC is 2012 and the TLC immediately jumped on their backs with threats of fines and licenses suspensions if they so dare to take away fairs from yellow cabs. Because of these threats, Uber announced that they would move their services to a more open and innovation friendly city such as Toronto or Boston. The more Uber ran its services in New York; however, the more rave reviews started piling in. 18 months after their immersion into NYC in 2012, city officials approved their innovative technology. After this, more and more people began using the user-friendly Uber app as their main taxi service. The app is easy to use, and with its live GPS system that almost instantly attaches the user to a nearby car, people see little reason to go out and search for a taxi.
Even though the concept of Uber seems much better than your typical “hail a taxi scenario,” there are still some concerns with their service revolving around smartphones. Not everyone has smartphones, so some people might find it unfair that they cannot have the same accessibility to a taxi service because of their monetary situation. This has not stopped the TLC from praising Uber’s service and encouraging other similar apps to come out of the woodwork to compete with Uber. Uber is great for people and drivers (who are looking for an easy way to make extra cash) to locate each other when taxi hailing is not very prevalent.
Chhabra’s move is seen to be very timely in the eyes of the public. It will be interesting to see how this former TLC official will impact the developing 3-year company. Chhabra explained that regulators move a lot slower than entrepreneurs, so it is his hope to close that gap as Uber’s head of policy development.