July 14, 2014
As I’ve noted before, it’s important to remember that Uber and Lyft are already very heavily regulated ride-sharing services, and in some ways they are regulated even more intensely than traditional taxis by a very ruthless group of regulators – the consumers who use their services. The issue really isn’t regulated versus unregulated ride services; the issue really is who is the primary regulator: a) government bureaucrats and legislators who are often captured by the regulated taxi cartels or b) consumers. And there’s no question that captured regulators almost always put the special interests of the well-organized, concentrated groups of regulated producers like the taxi cartel over the public interest of the dis-organized, dispersed thousands/millions of consumers.
In DC last week, I tried out the taxi-industry’s competitive app, Hailo. It quickly identified a cabbie near me, confirmed the trip, and sent me his picture and phone number. But then he called, said he was stuck in traffic, and couldn’t possibly make the promised pickup time. We took another cab, but then he called me later and told me how to cancel the trip on the app because until I did he couldn’t get any more trips. So still a few bugs in the system.