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Let the free market, not government, regulate Uber service

Regarding the Sept. 25 Metro article “Council weighs limo regulations”:

The fact that the D.C. Taxicab Commission is once again taking aim at the popular car service Uber is another indication that the city government rivals any second-rate regime when it comes to protecting the status quo at a cost to residents. Uber invented a better mousetrap, and the D.C. government wants to punish it for doing so, defying free-market principles and denying residents free choice.

Uber uses smartphone technology that allows customers to “hail” sedans that provide clean and comfortable one-way rides in the metro area. Rides are charged to a credit card — no cash, no tipping. The company is a welcome alternative to the random service and often disturbing discomfort of D.C. cabs.

The taxicab commission is trying to regulate sedan car providers through new legislation that could shut them down. Why? As a D.C. cabbie told commission officials, “If the city allows sedans, that will depress the market for taxis.”

And? We live in a free-market economy. Shouldn’t residents be allowed to decide how they want to spend their money? If I want to spend $5 or $10 more for a chauffeured sedan instead of a dirty cab with a surly driver, shouldn’t I be allowed to do so? It’s not as if D.C. cabs are going to disappear. If anything, free-market competition might be a catalyst for improved taxi services.

The D.C. Council needs to support innovative new businesses that residents benefit from. The members also need to support our right to choose. Let car services be like other businesses — they’ll sink or swim on consumer demand.

David Steitz, Washington

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