My Israel and Jordan post is coming soon (check Facebook for live updates!) but right now Cuba is everywhere. 2015 is set to be a record breaker in terms of visitors welcomed to the island. There will be 2,000,000 arrivals between January and July alone; this is a 16% increase year-on-year. 3,000,000 visitors came in 2014. For the first time in its history, and with the relaxation of rules for Americans, this trend is going through the roof. Between January and May, over 50,000 Americans legally visited Cuba.
Good news all around? Well, sort of. Here is the problem. It begs the question of what Cuba needs. One word – infrastructure. It is cute to drive in a ‘55 Chevy but there are only so many ‘55 Chevy’s to taxi us around. Unfortunately, hotels cannot support the boom and they cannot build efficiently and fast enough to absorb this increase. So what happens? Logjam. As everything has to go through those old, commie agencies, it’s triple logjam. This is all before they figure out the non-stop air services from USA cities. Right now, the island of Cuba could not support a 4,000 passenger luxury cruise line docking in Havana Bay. There are not enough buses to do the sightseeing, not enough guides to take you around, and not enough restaurants to feed you.
So dear Cuba…please. You have a great island and probably the most fascinating and beautiful in the Caribbean. Let’s get organized. Tourism is great. But right now, you are too pricy and you have no space.
All of the talk, wherever I go, seems to be whether Uber is ethical.
Let’s rewind and remember that Uber started essentially as a high-end, low-cost limo service with smart drivers and GPS. Imagine, these were the first guys in the taxi service that discovered GPS! Like any brand, it started to take off. There was no cash, no tip, no conversation needed, and less than the price of a taxi, all on an app that was highly reliable and told you exactly when and who was going to show up. They then diversified into Uber X which was a lot less than a taxi but the cars were not as nice. Yet it still had GPS relied on credit cards and no tip.
Then the protests began. The basic premise of the protest was unfair competition, no liability, and safety.
If taxis want to compete with Uber, then they should do so on Uber’s terms. Take my city, Boston. Taxi service here is terrible; they are owned by two or three large companies that simply don’t seem to care. The drivers earn a pittance, the taxis are dirty, there is no way of knowing if your taxi is going to show up and, if you don’t tip, they look at you as if there is no tomorrow. So, who is kidding who here? Uber found a gap in the market place – simple as that.
The other night, I took a water taxi from one end of Boston to the other. I had this vague fantasy of an Uber vaparetto – imagine that!