Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Taxis raising money nationally to fight UberX, Lyft and SideCar

Taxi cab companies from around the nation are working to collectively raise a significant amount of money to fight startups such as UberX, Lyft and SideCar, all venture backed San Francisco services that use mobile technology to match riders with people driving for hire in private vehicles without commercial licenses.

The decision to collect a national war chest was made at the Taxi, Limousine & Paratransit Association’s annual convention, which was held late last month in Boston. (link)
A fight is in the making and I expect it to take place in Nashville also. Nashville has already had a long drawn out fight to protect luxury limo companies from competition from black sedans. The fight involved legislation, the Transportation Licensing Commission imitating police officers to harass and threaten the competition, and an extended legal battle. The politically connected limo companies won. Nashville also made it extremely difficult for new taxi cab companies to enter the market. Finally new cabs were able to enter the market but only after a lengthy battle.

Now, Lyft has come to town and is recruiting drivers and Uber is exploring entering the market. Things might be different this time. Some business leaders and apparently the Mayor's office realize we need more public transportation options. This is a fight worth watching.

Unfortunately, the Metro Council has never taken a stand for free enterprise in this battle. Anyone in the Metro Council, who was in the Council in the previous term voted for the original limo prize fixing bill that required black sedans to operate as if they were luxury limos and established a host of ridiculous rules. That bill imposed a minimum fare of $45 for a limo, classified the black sedan services as limos and limited them to only one fare an hour. Nashville became one of only seven cities in the nation to have a minimum fare. That bill passed the Council unanimously, so think of your favorite metro "conservative" councilman who is serving his second term; he voted for it.

In this term of the Council an effort led by Council member Davette Blalock attempting to repeal the price-fixing bill but it failed. One of the leading opponents who kept it from passing is someone who is often considered a Republican. Shameful!

Anyone who thinks Nashville should not be embracing policies that protect existing companies from competition, anyone who believes in market capitalism, should be watching this issue. I will not contribute, endorse, or work for anyone who accepts money from this national organization formed to fight transportation competition. Unless some people with conservative values and guts run for office, I am ready to sit out the Council elections. On issues that matter, the most "conservative" council member often vote exactly like the most progressive council members. Why elect people who call themselves "Republicans" or "conservative" when they vote like socialist?

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