Tag Archives: Uber

Pietro Place Travel Blog Aqua Taxi Post

Aqua Taxi (The Uber Debate)

Pietro Place Travel Blog Aqua Taxi Post

Aqua Taxi

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!

How desirable is where you live, from an airline point of view?

There are hubs, and spokes, and then there are places that used to be hubs, but now are back waters. It’s not that where you live is not a desirable place but, from an airlines point of view, it’s a not a desirable place. Take Key West, for example; that seems pretty desirable. Who wouldn’t want to live there? Catch the sunsets, drink the tequila, and sit on the white sand while, in the distance, Cuba beckons. But 43% of Key West flights have been removed – disappeared, gone forever, along with Cleveland, Milwaukee, and La Crosse, Wisconsin.

The other day I was trying to fly from Boston to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Practically impossible. Not just difficult to get to, involving multiple stops, but over $600 round trip, compared to $300 round trip to Philadelphia. What’s happening?! Are airline executives angry about your bucolic country style living and just want to punish you? It’s all about shrinking flight schedules, boosting prices, consolidation. And none of it is good for us.

The truth is, it’s good for the airlines and the rental car companies. Smaller hubs have taken big hits and the smaller aircraft have been removed from the fleet. If you want to fly from Harrisburg to Boston, be prepared to pay top dollar and be inconvenienced with terrible connections. It can even be cheaper to take an Uber! It even encouraged me to drive the 6 hours, because by the time I rented the car from Philadelphia, it really provided me with no great benefit. This is the world of giant airlines; 8 have merged into 4. And smaller hubs have been removed or reduced down to practically nothing. The good news is that if you live in Seattle there are 25% more flights than there used to be. Westward ho!

The new world could mean a move back to cars (and trains if you’re lucky). Or just simply uprooting your entire hippy family from Key West, Florida and moving to midland Odessa, Texas, where there is a 20% increase in flights. That’s gonna be a great fit for you!

It’s not all doom and gloom, of course. Practically every hub in Hawaii has increased service, which brings me back to Key West, Florida. It’s just simply too close to Miami for anybody but the rich and famous. And Orlando, as a megahub, shows increases across the board. Disney just beat out the sunsets.

Image credited to: http://www.barnabu.co.uk/

Champions League Final 2015 – Berlin


I’ve been to Berlin three times. Once when it was a divided city, and the last two times over the space of 2 or 3 years. This time it was football (aka soccer) that drove me back; my annual visit to the Champions League Final, between the great Barcelona and the black and white of Juventus.

The city had changed again – not just that there were 70,000 people milling around with football jerseys. This place is actually one of the most cutting-edge cities in the world. It’s youthful, there are clubs and restaurants on every corner. New buildings are popping up, especially in the Eastern sector and the bicycle paths are on par with most Danish and Dutch cities. If you’re feeling athletic, check out BikeMap.net for some cool ride suggestions.


So here I am, standing in what’s called the Champions League Village, a hastily erected mockup of the event itself, except the Germans had figured out how to put an AstroTurf soccer pitch underneath the Brandenburg Gate. Yes, the same gate that Napoleon did a victory march through in the 1800s. Man these guys are good. In spite of the vast marauds of Spanish and Italian fans wondering around the city with Heinekens held in their hand – yep Heineken is a sponsor – everything worked perfectly. Transportation didn’t skip a beat. You could grab an Uber when you wanted to. Yeah. And the bars stayed open late. If I could think of a better venue for a champions league event, I would probably have to say Copenhagen or Amsterdam. But in the end I actually think the Germans have it. Berlin is an awesome city that has pretty much everything – except, oh yah, they don’t have a soccer team!