Lyft vs. Taxi Thunderdome

Drivers from opposite sides of the tracks duel over who’s less evil: the taxis or the ride-hailing companies?

The seething anger that taxis have towards Uber and its fuzzier cousin Lyft has been felt the world over. In Paris, cab drivers burned cars they believed to be Uber in protests. Taxi drivers have blocked Uber’s access to airports in demonstrations. In San Francisco, taxis often just resort to flipping them the bird, and talking shit to any passenger who will listen.

Naturally, we thought these two parties would like to debate on Backchannel.

Jon Kessler has written about leaving the cab industry to be a full-time Lyft (and Uber) driver as Driver 8.

Kelly Dessaint started driving with Uber, but soon after, decided to switch to taxis, which he has also chronicled on Medium.

The two debated onstage at the Next: Economy conference in November, and got so many laughs with their sharp jabs, we wanted them to continue the tete-a-tete.

For two hours in early December, the two drivers came to Medium’s San Francisco office, and opened their laptops for a point-by-point throwdown. Some Medium users wrote in with questions (you can see those in the “responses” down below), and I asked my own to organize the melee.

We’ve created a table of contents of the resulting conversation:

Why did you decide to change teams?
Lyft Driver: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em
Taxi Driver: I knew I was a scab when I drove for Uber

Who has more power in your car: the driver or the passenger?
Taxi: My word goes
Lyft: Rideshares give way too much power to passive-aggressive ratings

What becomes of the hotel doormen who get tips from cabs?
Taxi: Doormen are making much less money now
Lyft: Doormen extorted drivers, and taxis deserved to die

Did you feel safer driving taxis or rideshares? And your passengers?
Lyft: Lyft leaves a digital trail of who is in your car. Taxis are anonymous
Taxi: Cab drivers know how to handle themselves better, and drive better

What about the wheelchair argument — that rideshares exclude the disabled?
Lyft: Taxis are hypocritical about how disability-friendly they are
Taxi: Rideshares leave the disabled and poor behind

Do you think it’s crazy to enter the taxi industry now?
Lyft: Only if you want a medallion
Taxi: This Lyft driver is a traitor to cabs
Lyft: We should be more worried about good transit than securing old jobs

What about these lawsuits: do you want to be an employee?
Taxi: Yes. Freelancing blows.
Lyft: No. I want to call my own shots.

Taxi: So, Lyft driver, do you feel like a cowboy anymore?
Lyft: Nope. I feel like a drone.
Taxi: And I, a pirate. Things could be worse.

Feel free to add your own thoughts in the responses, too.

Illustrations by David Foldvari for Backchannel
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