I was in San Francisco a few weeks ago and I needed a cab. I was downtown, it was a Tuesday evening and that chilly breeze was holding off from blowing across the bay. In short, it wasn't tough to find a taxi rank with a few drivers twiddling their thumbs.

Work was paying and the cabbie was friendly.

"You're from New Zealand! That's awesome, dude," he said.

"I've been to more than 50 countries and you know that's probably the one place I want to go now more than anywhere else."


But Andre explained that he won't be shelling out for an overnight direct on Air New Zealand anytime soon.

"Buying the medallion to own this cab cost me all of my life savings," he explained.

"Two hundred and fifty grand that I'll probably never get back."

Fifteen minutes on the motorway and he dropped me at my airport hotel.

"Good luck and good night," he said as I closed the door and stepped off.

"And thanks for not taking Uber."

The next few days I was in LA where the cabs weren't quite so ubiquitous. With Andre's words still in my ears, I whipped out my phone and let Uber do Andre's work. Six separate times.

It was easy. It was cheap. And I can see why those cabbies in France and the UK are so worried that Uber will steal their jobs. In Christchurch alone, more than 1,300 people applied to become Uber drivers this week.


If history teaches us anything about commerce, it's that consumer convenience and cheap prices will always win out. It's why your running shoes were made in Vietnam and your T-shirt in Bangladesh.

No one wants anyone to lose their jobs, but economies are always forced to evolve. Just ask the Luddites - the machines always win.

In California, a 15-minute cab with Andre cost me $114. Covering more than twice that distance with six separate Uber trips cost me $82.

I know what I'll be taking next time.

Jack Tame is on Newstalk ZB Saturdays, 9am-midday.