The St Andrews Taxi and Lift Sharing Facebook page, created by students of St Andrews, has recently seen members divided after recent changes by its administrators and promotions of lift sharing.
The drama began when student Samuel Yuen, or Sam, became an admin of the page in late June and started to propose adding the function of lift sharing to the page, which was originally only for taxi sharing.
However, Mr Yuen was met with opposition when many taxi drivers and other members of the group alerted him with their concerns, including the risks involved with lift sharing, security issues, and the driving experience.
In an attempt to get to the bottom of these issues and understand both sides, The Saint has interview both Mr Yuen and a leading taxi driver in the town.
Frank Bissett owns Univercity Taxis in St Andrews, a taxi sharing service for students which has been running for over eight years.
Of the changes to the page, he said, “Car sharing is totally legal, and … we have nothing against it. It happens, it will always happen. But you have to draw the line obviously with car sharing [and] taxi sharing as two separate things altogether.”
Mr Bissett continued, “When the new admin of the group opened us up to car sharing, he’s opened up that group to anyone for car sharing with vehicles that are possibly un-roadworthy, drivers that are not checked and vetted by police council. So, the risks are very high.”
He also claimed that there are “a lot of fake profiles” in the Facebook group offering lift sharing, though this is not verified.
Mr Yuen contrastingly emphasised the benefits of lift sharing for students, particularly the low cost in comparison with taxi sharing and parking issues. Compared with taxi sharing, it is illegal for drivers to make profit from lift sharing. Instead, drivers can only charge for fuel costs, reducing the charge for passengers.
In response to proposed safety concerns, Mr Yuen has suggested that passengers verify the driver’s ID, license plate, and speak with their driver beforehand about any other concerns.
He said, “I encourage those of you who are getting a taxi or lift sharing service – you should always check the details carefully.
“We can’t take any responsibility for what happens between drivers and riders. Our only role is to make sure that they are advertised properly and lift-sharing drivers are not posing as taxi-sharing drivers.”
While both sides have proposed solutions to the issue, many members have been disappointed with how the page has changed since the lift-sharing debate began and have created their own page, St Andrews Students Transfers and Taxi Services.
They have used the Taxi and Lift Sharing page to promote their new group, but Mr Yuen has called the number of posts for the new group “spam” and has threatened to remove members from his group who advertise excessively on his page.
He claimed that on one day, he had to remove some 75 posts all promoting the same page.
Meanwhile, Mr Yuen has been called a “dictator” by members for his actions and changes to the group.
While creators of the new page feel they have a right to advertise to their market on Mr Yuen’s page, Mr Yuen feels they should work their way up.
He said, “If they want to start their own page, they start from scratch, they need to work the hard way up. We worked the hard way up for the past years and this is how we became so successful.
“If they are not happy with our changes, I would be more than happy for them to leave our page and start their own page and advertise their way up.”
Similarly, but from the other side, Mr Bissett argued, “The group was never intended, when starting off, to be a car-share group. It’s two totally separate things altogether.”
He continued, “What the admin should have done, we feel as drivers: advertise car shares, but do it in a separate group, not take over a group that’s already been established for taxi shares.”
Where do you sit on the taxi vs lift sharing issue? Would like you to see clearer guidelines about the safety of vehicles you get into? If you have any thoughts or opinions on this issue and the events that have transpired over recent weeks, please let us know in the comments section or via our social media channels.