Uber: Transforming Transportation Around the World


Uber is a company that has taken new technological developments and used them to create a superior service within the transportation industry amid the changing sociocultural influences of today’s societies. Uber allows for greater convenience for their riders and improves the economy of the communities within which they operate through job creation, while also operating in accordance to local, state, federal, and international laws and regulations. Because Uber is a young company that is transforming the transportation industry and entering the food and delivery service industry, I think it would be a very interesting company to research in greater detail.

Uber is taking an established infrastructure of car ownership and transportation and utilizing it in a totally new way. It’s a win-win for the drivers and riders, and the economic, environmental, and social benefits are huge. Uber is changing the mindsets of societies by initiating the transition from people purchasing their own cars to purchasing their own rides. It’s not only Uber that is transforming the transportation industry, it’s all the transportation network companies, including Uber’s competitors (Lyft, Sidecar, etc) that are part of this transformation. These companies are able to have a significant impact on the industry because of the technological developments and sociocultural influences that exist today.

Uber has rapidly expanded from its startup in San Francisco to now operating in over 250 cities and 51 different countries. In 2013, Uber’s growth rate was an impressive 369%, and in 2014, Uber’s growth rate was 300%. Because of the different politics, regulations, and cultures in each city, Uber adapts each of their launch plans to suit the area they are entering. Because Uber is entering into cities and facing competition from incumbents that are fighting against new innovative entrants, they have had to take a very local approach. Although the company has been successful in their growth strategy thus far, I question whether this type of rapid growth is sustainable?

While Uber has been very successful in countries and cities around the world, they have been bombarded with issues regarding their privacy policies, drivers as liabilities, and regulation challenges in national and international cities. These issues have greatly put stress on some of Uber’s key stakeholders, most specifically, the state and national governments of cities they have entered, the communities they have entered, their investors, and the transportation industry. In order to combat these challenges, before drivers even get a chance to be reviewed in the rating system that the Uber app uses, they must pass a three-step criminal background screening for the U.S. — with county, federal and multi-state checks that go back as far as the law allows. Although Uber has encountered some issues with the safety of their riders, the company has put in a significant amount of effort to improve their policies on a continuous basis as they learn from each mistake.

In combination of Uber’s innovative strategy, rapid growth, and political, legal, and social challenges, I think the company provides a fascinating basis for further research in regards to paper two.

Featured Image: “The American Genius”  http://agbeat.com/business-news/uber-privately-blacklists-some-of-their-users-is-it-legal/

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7 thoughts on “Uber: Transforming Transportation Around the World”

  1. Uber is an interesting company to consider with its technological impact on transforming the transportation culture. I do believe that they have been very successful in their strategy, but they may need to rethink it their implementation because it does not seem like they have don’t all the research needed for each city/country they are expanding into. Countries/cities all have a vastly different culture in means of transportation, so I think Uber should dig deeper before entering a new area.

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  2. Uber definitely is changing the transportation industry, some would argue for the worse. Living in D.C. this summer, I witnessed a taxi protest outside congress buildings over Uber’s growing control of the industry. Taxi drivers were frustrated by their decreasing customer base and increasing competition with the company. Cities set limits on the number of taxi’s drivers within cities to prevent a surplus of drivers. Uber’s growing presence defeats this. I am curious how Uber addresses these issues and concerns about local economy.

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  3. I think Uber will face a lot of issues in the coming years because they are taking away jobs from taxi drivers. I think governments and worker unions around the world will help protect the existing taxi work force with legislation. I believe that taxi companies were caught off guard by the concept of Uber and will be able to soon catch up (Apps and other technologies) and slow down Uber’s growth.

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  4. For the ethical angle, you could use consequentialism. Taxis are regulated precisely to avoid issues like drivers ripping off customers but also to avoid an unnecessary surplus of cars or strain on parking and roads. In other words, taxi regulation along with public transport has certain benefits. Does Uber provide more benefits than its downsides? Who bears the downsides? Uber, like many digital technology changes, allows for the blurring of boundaries between personal and commercial. My car is for work two hours a day, my home is a hotel one night a week (Air BnB), and so on. This does impact space and neighbors, though. In other words, it commercializes many spaces or interactions that previously were more consistently one or other.

    Maybe thinking about duties and rights in a world where every moment could be “Uberized” is one bigger ethical question to look at.

    David Orr in this piece also touched on shifting towards “conscientious technology use” instead of the historical default of “if it is a new technology, let’s use it.”

    In terms of policy angles, there are several. Obviously, how best to improve urban transportation is one that uber relates to. Or, how to regulate the kinds of micro-economic transactions that the Internet of all things enables.

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