Do we regulate taxi rates in order to make the experience a better one for the public? Or do we do it to keep taxi drivers from having to face competition and pressure to improve their service?
The controversy around Uber, a service that lets people reserve for-hire sedans via a smartphone app, has brought this question to the forefront, even though the issue itself goes far beyond Uber alone.
On its face, the Uber debate revolves around a set of questions that seem simple enough: Is Uber breaking laws, or not? Are the individual drivers? But the underlying question is different and far more complex: Should the law permit what Uber is doing, or shouldn’t it?
A TechCrunch article argues that Uber’s business model is legal, while in DCist, Ben Freed defends the sting in which Taxicab Commission chairman Ron Linton personally got involved in hiring and then punishing a driver.
Freed disagrees with the analogy in my Post editorial that taxis complaining about Uber is like Safeway complaining about upscale cupcake shops. Freed writes:
Not quite. Cupcakes, however widespread they’ve become, are not a regulated utility. Taxis are. ...
Linton, though, said he’s responding to complaints he’s heard from cabbies who say Uber’s eating into their business and from customers who feel they’ve been overcharged. The sting was necessary reconnaissance, he said.
[Continue reading David Alpert’s post at Greater Greater Washington.]
David Alpert is founder and editor of Greater Greater Washington. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.