Hammer Time: Hey Taxi!

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
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Georgia is now seriously weighing in House Bill 907 which opponents have dubbed the, “Taxi Monopoly Protection Act.”

It would effectively outlaw ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft. While also making cab companies victims of the usurious fees that they are required to pay to remain in business.

My solution to all this would be politically tone deaf and probably DOA in GA. My special interest is simply a personal one. I want to see better ideas work for the general public.

So here’s my deep dive into the rabbit hole that is government balancing one man’s freedom with another man’s fears.

The nuts and bolts of using your own personal property to transport other folks shouldn’t take much. If I were king governor of Georgia, this would be the way I would do it.

1) Don’t require taxi cab companies to pay for medallions and other mandated fees that serve no purpose other than inflicting financial harm on these businesses.

2) Do require that anyone who wishes to operate a taxi business (which Lyft and Uber are in practice) pay the insurance required to operate those businesses. If these companies want to pay for it themselves, that’s fine as well. But I believe this should be where the level ground should exist, and your insurance company should automatically be notified if you decide to operate this type of business.

3) Anyone who wants to sign up to be a taxi driver should have their license automatically run through the DDS web site every time their services are used to ensure that they still have a valid license. The way it is structured now, drivers can have their history gone through one time, and are okay thereafter.

This is the type of solution that makes no one 100% happy.But yet, it represents the fact that we need to let the government become an enabler of free enterprise. Instead of a perpetual conduit for special interests. It also represents the fact that there are some minor sticky issues that would need to be ironed out should this remote possibility ever come to pass.

The first has to do with handicapped folks.

It cost a lot more money to convert a new vehicle into a handicap accessible one. Since the costs of serving this population is far higher (to the tune of several thousands of dollars per vehicle), should handicapped customers pay more for these transportation services? Or should there be some sort of assistance, somewhere, to subsidize it?

The second issue has to do with vehicle inspections.

Should they exist? And if so, who should pay for it?

The quality of transport requires more than cheapness and minimal standards. Precious few of you are willing to spend a lot of money being transported in a 22 year old Corolla with no a/c (in Georgia), bald tires, and the smell of body odor permeating your nasal passages. Should owner reviews and corporate follow-up handle these issues? Or should there be some type of government standards that prevent the public from bad service?

Finally, what about the children?

Should there be certain child seats that must be required usage on these vehicles? I am sometimes tempted to go back to a 1970’s styled, “Put the kids in the back of the wagon!”. However the young human body is especially fragile, and I think that either the parent or the company should provide kids with adequate protection. So pick one, pick none, or pick both.

Adults with needs, cars with needs, and kids with needs. The current bill sponsored by 5 Republicans and 1 Democrat doesn’t even pretend to serve their interests. But let’s say we live in a fictional world where the special interests on both sides are mere midgets compared with the general welfare and collective powers of the electorate. Let’s be kings instead of pawns today and try to solve the world’s problems one used car ride at a time.

How would you solve it?

Steven Lang
Steven Lang

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4 of 44 comments
  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Feb 18, 2014

    If you read about the early history of Checker Motors and Yellow cab in Chicago, you can understand the reason for regulation. In the 1920s, opposing taxi companies were sabotaging each others' cars and beating up drivers (and sometimes customers), and low,low fares turned out to be not so low at the end of the trip. As with all regulation, a board or commission is set up, regulators turn into dictators, and the necessary fees turn into revenue sources for local governments. It seems no system will work well forever, it has to be shaken up periodically. Uber and Lyft are serving that purpose now.

  • Pch101 Pch101 on Feb 18, 2014

    "Don’t require taxi cab companies to pay for medallions and other mandated fees that serve no purpose other than inflicting financial harm on these businesses." Presumably, those fees pay for the regulatory body that oversees the taxis. If the cabbies (and by extension, their passengers) don't cover those costs on their own, then everyone else will. Do you want to have those who don't use taxis pay for those who do use them? There's no right answer to that question, but you should at least under the implications of what you are suggesting. And unless you want to have cabs be completely unregulated, there is a cost that will need to be paid by someone. The easy answer would be to offer a medallion for ridesharing services. Perhaps it would make sense to create a special type of medallion for these purposes.

    • See 1 previous
    • Pch101 Pch101 on Feb 18, 2014

      @Steven Lang My knowledge of the Atlanta situation consists of a whopping three minutes on the internet, but I can tell you that the medallions are paying for about one-third of the police department's budget. If you got rid of the medallion fees without making any cuts, then other taxes and fees would have to be raised by an average of roughly $130 (give or take) per resident in order to cover the difference. Are households eager to pay another few hundred dollars per year in exchange for free medallions that go to a relatively small number of people? I doubt it. Similarly to hotel and rental car taxes, a lot of these are paid (in this case, indirectly) by visitors who neither live nor vote there. Locals tend to like taxes that they don't have to pay.

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