Ride Sharing Regulation

I understand that regulation of ride sharing services (such as Uber, Lyft, etc.) is currently being discussed at the state house. I have not heard as to whether the Senate, the House, or both are debating bills at this time.

I see ride sharing services as the way of the future, a networked approach (individuals provide a service, organized via a network), rather than a hierarchical one (i.e., owners, managers, drivers, arranged in a top-down hierarchy as bosses and employees).

The taxi industry is old fashioned and on its way out. It supplies drivers who do not speak American English fluently, don’t know where things are, and can’t tell you what a ride will cost until you get to the end of the trip. The fixed number of medallions and arcane rules based on municipal boundaries leaves passengers with long wait times, and drivers without good knowledge of the geography at their destination.

I wholly support this new method (ride sharing) that gives passengers much more information on who will be driving for them, the cost of the ride ahead of time, and a greater pool of drivers ready to serve them. I understand that there are ‘bugs’ to be worked out of the system – of course there are! This is a new idea and it’s gaining experience as it operates.

But I think any attempt to hamstring ride sharing to covertly benefit the taxi industry will result in a colossal failure and I strongly recommend against it. New, networked systems designed to provide services will win in the long run and will do better than old hierarchical organizations and businesses from now on. Putting onerous hurdles in the way of these new services will just drive ride sharing underground, but it will never go away. Eventually, it will triumph, so let’s move forward rather than backward (as sometimes we seem to do here in Massachusetts!). It’s high time that we ‘disrupted’ the taxi industry, and replaced it with new systems that better serve passengers and drivers alike.

2 replies on “Ride Sharing Regulation”

  1. The taxi cab business had an opportunity for a very long time and they still could, to deliver a quality service at a reasonable price. This would have included, clean full functional taxi with courteous drivers, with GPS devices, that arrived when they were supposed to. They could still change the way they do business to be competitive in an ever changing world, but have staunchly fought change to provide what customers want. Instead they have chosen to take a political route.
    I travel a fair amount and in the past had no choice but to use a taxi. Most are dirty, I am afraid to put my suitcase in the trunk and dressing professionally or being courteous are not required.
    Uber saw an opportunity to file a gap and has done a great job. They use the various GPS mapping software that alerts you of traffic jams and finds the quickest way from point A to B. When was the last time you used a taxi and they had such a device or offered you a bottle of water. You get to rate the drivers and they you, it’s a great example of a free market, working properly.
    I do believe having a background check for drivers is appropriate.
    Recently I have been following with dismay articles trying to curtail Uber’s access to Logan Airport and other locations. Uber should not be banned just because the unions and politically connected allies don’t want competition. Historically, once the government gets involved in managing a market, things quickly go awry.
    This is one of my favorite quotes and it certainly applies in this situation.

    CHANGE – “It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, not more dangerous to manage than the creation of a new system, for the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institutions and merely lukewarm defenders in those who would profit by the new ones. – Machiavelli”

    Thank You
    Jim Fitzgerald

  2. Thanks, Glenn.

    I’m very opposed to any legislation that would limit the expansion of the new models.

    Reasonable insurance and security rules are appropriate, and we’ll be taking a look at that, but I agree we shouldn’t protect the old ways of doing business.

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