The taxi industry is changing rapidly, and the drivers who have stuck around to provide a service for decades are taking a pay cut.
But as the city of Portland, Oregon, becomes a hotbed for Uber, the drivers are also struggling.
In an exclusive interview, CBC News examines the shift to the ride-sharing service and what it means for the taxi industry.
It’s the latest in a series of stories by The Globe and Mail’s reporters about the taxi drivers and the people who use them.
The taxi driver’s story The story of the cab driver is the story of a taxi, and its journey is one of hope and hardship.
“It’s really an important part of our society,” says taxi driver Paul Vau.
“I’m an older guy who’s in the middle of a career crisis.
When I first started driving in Portland, I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to get out of here.
I’m gonna get a good job, and I’m not going to have to live on the streets.'”
“I had a bad experience, and then I had a really bad experience,” he adds.
“And the reason I’m talking to you today is because I’m about to have another bad experience.”
Vau says he is the only taxi driver in the city, and that he has a reputation for being rude to the public.
“People would say, ‘What’s he doing here?’
And I would be like, I don’t know, I’ve never been asked that question,” he says.
“So I don, like, try to avoid that kind of thing.
But I have been doing it for a long time, and people get annoyed.”
In addition to the reputation he has built, Vau is also the person most likely to get into trouble with the city.
“They are going to go after you,” he explains.
“But you are a part of this community and that is really what I care about.
That’s why I’m here.”
Vou has a hard time finding a job, despite being the only driver.
“You know, it’s really tough to find a job,” he admits.
“When I get to the office, I see that they are already calling me up and telling me, ‘You are not doing well.
You are not getting any new business,'” he says, referring to the city’s Taxi Commission.
“The city is not a good place for people to be starting a business.”
Uber drivers face a new reality While the cab industry has undergone a major shift, taxi drivers are still facing a new challenge: The growing number of Uber cars, and their ability to charge higher fares, have made it more difficult for the drivers to survive.
“In my city, we have a lot of people driving for Uber.
So it’s hard for us to be in the business,” says Vau, who currently works at the Port of Portland.
“We are trying to get more and more drivers in, so that the number of people in the industry will increase.”
Vaud, who is also a taxi cab driver, has noticed a trend.
“At this point, there is no taxi,” he tells The Globe.
“There are not any.”
Uber and the taxi union say they are taking the issue seriously.
“This is not an issue that we take lightly, and we will continue to work with our drivers and stakeholders to address this issue,” says Uber spokeswoman Jennifer Dyer.
“While there is a growing number to meet demand for Uber in Portland and throughout the region, we recognize that some drivers may not have a good relationship with the taxi commission, and may be unwilling to take the Uber drivers’ concerns seriously.”
The taxi drivers union says it is taking a hard look at the issue, and it has been working closely with its drivers.
“Our drivers are being held to higher standards than in previous years, and in order to do that we have to make certain changes,” said Dyer in an email to The Globe, explaining the union’s stance.
“With the rapid changes that are taking place in our industry, we know that we must be vigilant to keep the drivers and passengers safe.”
And as Uber moves into Portland, there are concerns that drivers will lose their jobs.
“For now, we’re just working with the cab commission to understand what the rules are and what they need to do to be compliant with the law,” says Dyer, “and we’ll be working with them to make sure that we get the necessary rules in place.”
“The taxi industry as a whole is going through a really tough time right now, because they are facing a lot more pressure than ever before,” says Peter Boulter, president of the Portland Taxi Association.
Boulters is a retired cab driver who has worked in the field for more than 30 years.
“My biggest concern right now is the drivers