The drips of racism in the comment thread on Goldy's article about cabs and their growing competition are repugnant ("It smells like six month old leftover Indian food mixed with ass and vomit," "[t]hat isn't the cab you smell it is the driver," "drivers who pretend they don't speak english," and they "are often Muslim and seem to hate Americans"). But I can't argue with the substantive complaints about Seattle taxis: The cabbies balk when you try to pay with your card, they often don't show up when you call, the dispatchers give you guff if you complain that they picked up a different fare even though you're the one who called, they're expensive, the drivers smoke, and many of them just have no clue where they're going.
Still, I take cabs several times a month—they're cheaper than owning a car if you use them occasionally—and I sympathize that drivers have difficult, low-paying jobs with grueling hours. Many of the drivers (lots of whom are professional and kind and have given me great service) work essentially at the mercy of the fat cats who own several cars. And, apparently, plenty of their customers are racist pieces of shit. But Christ, it's not like the rest of us riders are frustrated with Seattle cabs for no reason. And it's not like shitty dispatch and shitty service are impossible to fix. They're totally fixable.
So I'm all about the surge in competition: The cars for hire, the limos, the car-sharing services, the ride-sharing apps. They're surging because they're better than cabs. Sure, some of the competition is probably breaking the law, but hopefully the Seattle City Council can regulate that competition into legality. (I'm not saying deregulate the entire industry; killing the cab companies would be a terrible blow for our tourism industry.) But give Yellow Cab, Orange Cab, and Farwest some real above-the-board competition to fear—that seems like the only way to force cab companies to step up their game.