Pur Autre Vie

I'm not wrong, I'm just an asshole

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Taxi Policymakers Ask: What is Fare?

Matty G had a post about taxi policy the other day, which reminded me that I had been meaning to blog about it. I am not sure why it fascinates me so much, but maybe this is the best way to put it: it is very important, very complicated, and very likely to confound your default ideological assumptions/approach. Maybe I'm exaggerating this last point, but I wonder how people would answer the following questions:

1. Should taxis be regulated in any manner? That is, should anyone be allowed to pick up fares, at any price, covering any area?

2. If taxis are to be regulated, should the regulations specify anything more than price/mile? Price + required coverage area? Insurance (beyond normal liability insurance)?

3. Should the number of taxis be limited, for instance by auctioning medallions?

4. What should the restrictions be on non-taxi car services - should they be allowed at all? Should they be allowed to pick up fares at negotiated, non-taxi (probably non-metered) prices?

5. Does it make sense to think of taxi service as a city-wide amenity that should be provided to outer boroughs (using cross-subsidization if necessary)?

6. If the answer to the previous questions is "it depends," then what does it depend on? What should taxi policy try to achieve? Should it be centrally planned or should it be treated more like other private enterprise (that is, facilitated by public policy but essentially decentralized)?

Then with those questions in mind, check out this article on the dearth of taxis during early rush hour, and this post on cab drivers refusing to take people to the outer boroughs, and this opinion piece on allowing non-taxi car services to pick up fares.

Taxi policy would make a great multi-disciplinary seminar at a law school or maybe even a liberal arts college.