D.C. Cabbies Upset Over New Regulations Which Raise Costs

Who would have thought that increased regulations and business burdens could cause costs to rise? Weird, huh?

(Washington Post) Some D.C. taxis, passengers complain, are old, rickety, hot and smelly; the cabbies don’t take credit cards; they’re illegally choosy about whom they pick up, and they pay more attention to their phone calls than to their driving.

But D.C. cabs are also cheaper and more plentiful than those in many other big cities – 8,000 taxis for 600,000 people, compared with 13,000 for New York’s 8.2 million residents. Unlike in most cities, Washington’s cabbies are nearly all owner-operators; the big fleets that dominate taxi service elsewhere do not exist here. Yet.

Now, that may all be on the cusp of dramatic change as a wave of additional regulations and a burst of new competition combine to alter the city’s taxi landscape. D.C. cabbies, always a cranky bunch, now waver between outrage and despair. Their incomes, they say, have plummeted, and the new rules could force them to leave the business.

Now, it’s not all regulationatory burdens that causes the problems. Certainly, some of their own actions, like not accepting credit cards, adds to the misery, along with poor service. You know what should happen? Let the market forces come in to play. Those whose service stinks and do not accept credit cards should be allowed to go under (personally, when I’m in D.C. I take the subway system and, if moving around a lot, get a bus pass). But, adding lots of regulations costs actual money. Switching to the link in the 3rd excerpted paragraph

In the first major rewrite of taxi regulations in decades, the council gave final approval to legislation that will require credit card readers and Global Positioning System devices in all District cabs. The bill, which follows nearly two years of study and negotiation, also mandates that cabs gradually adopt the same color and that drivers replace older vehicles with newer ones.

That adds quite a bit of cost, especially replacing older vehicles. And since most of these taxis are owner-operators versus big fleets, those costs will have to be paid by the cabbies themselves.

“We are a world-class city, and the aim is to establish a world-class taxi industry,” said council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), chairman of the committee with oversight over transportation issues.

Then you know what you should do? Allow more competition. If a better service comes in, the cabbies will have to upgrade and offer better customer service and atmosphere or perish. And the taxi drivers were also upset about Uber, which is basically a ride sharing service. The D.C. Council wanted to place minimum fees on the service, but, there was so much outcry that the debate was put off till next year.

PS: If you read the first paragraph of the story link in the excerpt, you’ll notice that the city council for the capitol city of the United States has “eased enforcement of immigration laws.”

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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