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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Calls for Taxi Deregulation Ignore Seattle's History of Failed Taxi Deregulation

Posted by on Tue, Feb 25, 2014 at 9:54 AM

I'm pretty sure they know better, yet the Seattle Times editorial board insists on the misleading lede:

WHEN Seattle began to regulate the taxi industry decades ago, it created a monopoly. Now is the time for city leaders to fix a system that no longer works for consumers who want more transportation options.

Actually, Seattle began to regulate the taxi industry exactly a century ago, in 1914, first capping the number of cars in 1930. It was "decades ago"—1979, in fact—when Seattle deregulated its taxi industry, lifting all caps and allowing taxis to set their own rates. The presumption was that competition would improve service and reduce fares, but as a 2001 report from the city's Consumer Affairs division explains, "service quality declined and rates were often higher." So Seattle's taxi industry was reregulated, starting in 1984—as was the taxi industry in nearly every other city that experimented with deregulation.

Also, this "monopoly" charge is ridiculous. There is no monopoly. Under the proposed ordinance, taxis would face competition from the uncapped town car industry, the flat-rate/for-hires, and the newly legitimized TNC industry.

It's not like there's no history here. We tried deregulation. It didn't work. If you want to make the argument that we no longer need a traditional taxi industry—that the needs of the tourism industry, or of people who pay with cash or scrip, or who rely on the certainty of a regulated fare, are no longer important—then make your case. But to ignore our history of taxi deregulation in the service of repeating it can only lead to an uninformed decision.

Speaking of which:

On Thursday, the Seattle City Council’s Committee on Taxi, For-Hire and Limousine Regulations should send legislation to the full council that legalizes these new ride-sharing services and ensures the safety of drivers and passengers. New rules should remove any caps limiting the number of taxis or new services.

The three committee members Sally Clark, Bruce Harrell and Mike O’Brien all want to cap the number of ride-sharing vehicles at 300 or 600 licenses for two years. That is a misguided proposal that would protect the taxi companies’ hold on the market and reduce choice for consumers. Sidecar says it has 1,000 drivers in the Seattle market. UberX and Lyft have many more.

It is important to note that the three committee members who support a cap are the three committee members who sat through a year of hearings and reports and contentious public comment. These are the three members who know the issue best. And they all support some sort of cap. But instead, the editors are urging their less informed council colleagues to ignore their recommendations, because the market!

Nobody wants to destroy the TNCs. They provide a useful service. The goal is to transition them into the market without destroying an equally useful (if less trendy) service with which they only partially overlap, all the while assuring the safety of both the passengers and the drivers. Given our city's history with taxi deregulation, the two-year pilot program that the committee has proposed, under which caps can be assessed and adjusted, is a justifiably prudent approach.


Comments (59) RSS

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fletc3her 1
I have my own ideas about re-regulation of the industry which are probably hopelessly naive, but I do think it is very important for people to understand the history of taxi regulation. Why do we have the rules that we have now? What situation necessitated these rules? What problems were they trying to solve?

I'm reminded of my attempts at home repair. Sometimes you open a wall and find things that don't make any sense. Why are things routed this way? Why is this junction box here? Learning more about codes and common practices these decisions often come to make sense. Going in and straightening everything out is sometimes downright dangerous.
Posted by fletc3her on February 25, 2014 at 10:01 AM · Report this
If you read the city's study on regulation it notes two big reasons for the deregulation's "failure":

1) Fares were difficult for customers to discover, so they couldn't shop for the cheapest alternative.
2) The market was dominated by 3 large taxi providers.

I think the current conditions are different. The new services like Uber let you know exactly what the price is. And there is more competition now with the new providers.

You should also remember that the urban areas that taxis serve today are much different than they were in the 1970s/early 1980s and are much less likely to tolerate a shoddy, unsafe taxi service.

Regulate basic standards of operation and maybe set a fixed price to/from the airport, but capping the number of cars is not the function of government.
Posted by drshort on February 25, 2014 at 10:10 AM · Report this
Specifically what parts of the '79 reform "didn't work?" The rate change, the cap lift, or something else? And who didn't it work for, really? The fact that caps were reestablished doesn't prove that what we have now is the best approach, particularly in an industry whose legal framework is held up as an example of regulatory capture. These are honest questions, because I've read many of the same reports you have, Goldy, and I never could get a clear read on the reasons things changed back in Seattle in the 80s. I suspect it had less to do with facts on the ground and more with a resurgent taxi lobby.

BTW, check out Ireland for an example of a cap lift that's stuck. If memory serves they also set up a program to help compensate license owners for the resulting drop in the licenses' (absurdly inflated) worth.
Posted by Patrick McGrath on February 25, 2014 at 10:31 AM · Report this
theophrastus 4
you probably tire of hearing this amid all the strident and well-financed calls for deregulation (by-the-bye, the exact same set of four featured in the full-page newspaper ad were the exact same random sample of grateful drivers who visited city hall. with all the money involved - and it's considerable - you'd think they could've bought some spare players) ...but this is some consistently damn good reporting Goldy - well done!
Posted by theophrastus on February 25, 2014 at 10:37 AM · Report this
The three people who know this situation best and/or the three people who have had the closest relationships with the existing cab providers?
Posted by dak7e on February 25, 2014 at 10:46 AM · Report this
Regulation has been successful for the taxi companies, but not for the potential customers. Look at all the complaints on every post you've started -- slow/unreliable service, unresponsive dispatch, rude/irresponsible/deceitful drivers, ambiguous charges, etc. Regulation of taxis has not served the people; it's driven out competition and any attention to quality service. If regulation was successful for the customers, there wouldn't be this boom of support for unregulated alternatives! Do you think this is some conspiracy or something? Deregulation failing 30 years ago doesn't really factor into today's market, a market that is completely different financially, demographically, and technologically.
Posted by sanotehu on February 25, 2014 at 10:47 AM · Report this
GOLDY WE HAVE THE INTERNET NOW. so any consumer can check on prices and reviews of the service. and will post a negative review if it's bad service.

people go on blind dates using the internet. it's crazy to suggest people can't regulate out the bad drivers, bad services, high prices themselves. and today many people are willing to be drivers. we should totally deregulate and let ANYONE provide rides for hire. if they have $3 million in insurance and register it online and the govt. maintains an online yelp type review system keyed to the license plate so you see a provider you look them up. then you get in at your own risk.

this is how we do it when it's mowing your lawn. you pick someone, and they don't have a license. many babysitting jobs are done this way, too. no license. let people make choices consensually. this overregulation is ridiculous, and unenvironmental, the easiest way to remove 30% of all cars going to work is to let another 30% their negibhors carry the rider for $4 or $8 or whatever people want to pay -- and this is illegal now. Why? fears it won't work based on something in the 70s aren't relevant today.
Posted by internet creates knowledgenmarket on February 25, 2014 at 10:54 AM · Report this
JF 8
Things are exactly the same as they were in 1979. I've had my dad mention, more than once in fact, that the uber app on his phone back in 1979 was far superior to the one used now days and he'll be goddamned if he ever updates it.
Posted by JF on February 25, 2014 at 10:54 AM · Report this
We need to learn from our lessons, no doubt. But Goldy isn't doing a good job leaping from the summary/synthesis phase of his research (we once tried deregulation and it didn't work so well) to the application phase (here's what went wrong with deregulation and why TNCs aren't immune.)

I'm going out on a limb here and guessing that's because TNCs don't have the same problems. I'm sure there's something wrong with them... but you wouldn't know that reading through Goldy's seemingly pointless verbiage.
Posted by dak7e on February 25, 2014 at 10:55 AM · Report this
danewood 10
@6 has it right.

I don't know if outright deregulation is the answer. I think maybe REregulation to make changes that are more in line with the modern times AND serve the customer is probably the way to go.

Forcing towncar services into the heavily regulated taxi market? Not the answer. The popularity of the towncar like Uber is a direct response from the people that the taxi market as it exists now is not serving them well.

I will not use taxis for this reason: I generally have to wait 15 minutes or longer for one and I live in the urban center of the city. The customer service is often time extremely rude and difficult to communicate with. Taxi drivers always balk at the fact that I want to use my bank card to pay even though this is now the popular and accepted method of payment these days. The last time I took a cab was when the driver flat out denied my card and insisted on driving me to an ATM to get cash for him.

That is unacceptable. Using Uber I don't have to wait any longer than 7 minutes for the car, using the app is simple, the drivers have all given excellent service and the payment is no longer awkward. Furthermore, I ask the drivers about their experience driving for Uber and they all have only great things to say, many of them having abandoned previous taxi employers.

Posted by danewood on February 25, 2014 at 11:01 AM · Report this
Goldy I would really be interested in the actual arguments for capping TNCs. For me that's the core point of contention, and the appeal to authority here isn't convincing.
Posted by wxPDX on February 25, 2014 at 11:11 AM · Report this
Let's use the ineffective fixes we applied to a fundamentally fcuked system to a wildly successful system. Cuz... fairness. Or something. This seems to be Goldy's fundamental point.

There are some real problems with the TNCs. Surge pricing is one of them. Insurance and safety is another. Why not just directly address those issues, Goldy?
Posted by dak7e on February 25, 2014 at 11:19 AM · Report this
"The goal is to transition them into the market without destroying an equally useful (if less trendy) service"

You have neither demonstrated that taxis are equally useful as Uber (likely an impossible task) nor have you demonstrated that Uber will destroy taxi service (and you make the case why they can't in the 4th paragraph).

This talk of caps is a retaliatory effort to protect an ineffective monopoly from modern technology. It's a textbook case of regulatory capture.

Want to make Uber drivers pass a background check? Great! Safety regulations for cars? Wonderful. Want to convert Uber to a for-hire service instead of independent contractors? Go for it. Those measures might protect consumers. Caps just protect Yellow Cab. Next we'll be capping the number of buses to protect gas stations from losing money.
Posted by unpaid reader on February 25, 2014 at 11:37 AM · Report this
DavidG 14
I think almost always, the burden of making the case lies on those advocating FOR regulation. In many instances, it's justified. But you've got to make the case. And I don't see any case here -just "trust me, I'm from the past" and "trust those council members, they know a lot [that they're not telling]". No case, just appeal to authority.
Posted by DavidG on February 25, 2014 at 11:53 AM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 15
The central issue is that transit agencies need to recognize that on demand, car based services, are a form of transit, even if used by a single passenger.

Rather than regulate, or deregulate, they should be fully incorporated into the transit system, in a form ranging anywhere between subsidies and full incorporation where taxi drivers become Metro employees.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on February 25, 2014 at 11:59 AM · Report this
Goldy 16
@13 Taxis serve people without smartphones, without credit cards, and who pay with cash or scrip. The TNCs do not. Taxis also pick up hailing passengers. Are you suggesting that unregulated drivers in unmarked cars should be stopping to pick up hailing customers?

TNCs are supplement to taxis, not a replacement.
Posted by Goldy on February 25, 2014 at 12:05 PM · Report this
Goldy 17
@14 Why? Because Ayn Rand or Milton Friedman told you so?

The burden should be on those arguing to change the status quo. There's got to be a better reason than regulations bad, market good.
Posted by Goldy on February 25, 2014 at 12:07 PM · Report this
Yeah. We should keep our shitty system because... it's always been shitty.
Posted by dak7e on February 25, 2014 at 12:19 PM · Report this
@16 TNCs are indeed a replacement of taxis for many people who want the convenience, predictability, and accountability taxis fail to deliver.

Do you want more drunks on the road, Goldy? Do you want young women walking home alone at night because there are no taxis around? Should my coworkers at my restaurant stand around for up to an hour waiting for a taxi with their tip money in their pockets after they close down for the night? We need as many options at our disposal as possible. We need every option to get home safely. Capping our options - and doing so only to protect a terrible, outmoded, monopolistic industry - is the worst kind of regulation.
Posted by Subdued Excitement on February 25, 2014 at 12:20 PM · Report this
Goldie, the reasons are better than "regulations bad, market good" -- look at Yellow Cab's google review ratings -- 2.2 of 5 stars. Orange Cab is also 2.2/5. Yelp rating for OC is 1.5/5. Yelp rating for YC is 1/5. Are you really going to assert regulation isn't failing the consumer?
Posted by sanotehu on February 25, 2014 at 12:22 PM · Report this
Here's a simple challenge for you, Goldy:

By the end of the week, publish a coherent, succinct enumerated list of the top five issues with. Try and keep it under a thousand words. Bonus points if you can actually correlate any of these history lessons to said issues.
Posted by dak7e on February 25, 2014 at 12:30 PM · Report this
^ issues with TNCs, of course.
Posted by dak7e on February 25, 2014 at 12:31 PM · Report this
@17 The status quo right now is Uber et al. I haven't used a traditional taxi since uber came to Seattle a few years ago. I like this status quo quite a lot. Why do you want to change it? Again, what is the argument for capping TNCs?
Posted by wxPDX on February 25, 2014 at 12:35 PM · Report this
Cap and regulate street hails. Deregulate and uncap dispatch services. It's easy to comparison shop dispatch services, whether internet or phone based, and the market can function for those cars. It's impossible to comparison shop street hails, unless you want to walk around for an hour flagging down different cars, so they must remain regulated.
Posted by Lack Thereof on February 25, 2014 at 12:49 PM · Report this
Keep in mind for those average review numbers from google/yelp, you can't rate 0 stars. The companies get an automatic 20% just for existing. I don't know how they did it in schools 30 years ago, but <60% is failing. Regulated cab companies have failed, while unregulated TNCs aren't... and you want to bring the TNCs under the same regulation that produced Yellow/Orange Cab?
Posted by sanotehu on February 25, 2014 at 1:00 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 26
The age of disco called: they want their study back
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on February 25, 2014 at 1:06 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 27

Generally speaking, 3 stars on Yelp mean that your company sucks (assuming you have a few dozen+ reviews). Three stars is "everything pretty much sucked, but it wasn't bad enough to get angry about it". Anything less than that means that there's something seriously wrong with your business.
Posted by keshmeshi on February 25, 2014 at 1:17 PM · Report this
Part of the problem is that so many Seattleites are newcomers, having arrived (or been born) after the last taxi deregulation fiasco in the early 1980's. And this includes several, perhaps a majority of our current City Council!

I am not sanguine about a good and workable outcome.
Posted by Citizen R on February 25, 2014 at 1:20 PM · Report this
DavidG 29
@17 Dodging the question AGAIN! Dominic Holden is a much better advocate for urbanism. Environmental, safety, and economic/social justice reasons are all good reasons for regulations. What's the reason here (besides "take my word for it")? I still haven't seen one.
Posted by DavidG on February 25, 2014 at 1:29 PM · Report this
Oooh, an unregulated taxi industry ? What if it goes down like Peru and the cabbies just want to charge men more ?……
We examine gender differences in bargaining outcomes in a highly competitive and commonly used market: the taxi market in Lima, Peru. Examining the entire path of negotiation we find that men face higher initial prices and rejection rates. These differentials are consistent with both statistical and taste-based discrimination. To identify the source of the inferior treatment of men we conduct an experiment where passengers send a signal on valuation before negotiating. The signal eliminates gender differences and the response is shown only to be consistent with statistical discrimination. Our study secures identification within the market of interest and demonstrates that there are environments where sophisticated statistical inference is the sole source of differential gender outcomes.
Posted by ChefJoe on February 25, 2014 at 2:09 PM · Report this
platypusrex256 31
The problem with the 1979 - 1984 example is that the market functioned differently then. I know 'market' is a bad word but hear me out. Consumers are able to make wiser and more prudent choices when availability of information is plentiful and accurate. Smartphones and such allow this to work. You open the app, you see the availability of cabs and you see the cost. Its all right there.

Go back to 1979. You start by digging in your pants for quarters? You pickup a disease ridden public phone and you put it to your face? You grab the phone book but all the pages have been torn out? You ask a passing person for the number for a cab company? He's high on heroin so he can't tell you? You ask someone else? Maybe you wrote the number down somewhere? They say a cab is on the way? God knows who comes? They might be a serial killer? They might go the long way? God knows how much it costs until you arrive at your destination? No oversight!

Fast forward to 2013 with your smart phone. Everything is regulated by the technology. Your driver is documented. The route you take is documented. Everything is sent to your email afterwards. Absolute transparency and if there is any problem you just call the company and they resolve the issue for you.
Posted by platypusrex256 on February 25, 2014 at 2:13 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 32

Back when Giuliani was cracking down on cabs in the late '90s, the Village Voice ran an article about one particular cabby who, throughout his career, had never bothered following any of the regulations he was supposed to follow. He charged more on Christmas. He charged more for ugly chicks, and that was only when he deigned to pick them up. The Voice tried its best to make that asshole sound sympathetic, as the last bastion of Old New York (whatever the fuck that is), but all they wound up doing was making Giuliani's case.

It's funny that you would mention economic and social justice issues regarding this topic, because both factor in to taxi regulations.
Posted by keshmeshi on February 25, 2014 at 2:17 PM · Report this
Did some reading and changed my mind-- caps won't kill supply but the insurance market might. Commercial car insurance is expensive enough that it doesn't work out financially to do part time work with it. Apparently pizza drivers are also supposed to have it, and anyone else using a vehicle for work. I can't imagine all those food delivery folks have the right insurance. Now that's an issue of protecting the little guy-- the council should do something to make insurers sell a scaled down "part time" commercial policy.
Posted by wxPDX on February 25, 2014 at 2:27 PM · Report this
Mickymse 34
Please make a real case, then, Goldy... Folks I know who were around keep citing the report on deregulation; but that report doesn't actually say it failed. And the main points it raises as problems are -- as has been pointed out above -- addressable. We're in a totally different environment today. sure, maybe full deregulation is not the right answer; but it should be abundantly clear to anyone not simply interested in protecting the current industry players that the current situation isn't working for a significant number of consumers.
Posted by Mickymse on February 25, 2014 at 2:48 PM · Report this
@34: You really don't know jack shit about insurance, do you? Tell me how a scaled down "part time" commercial policy would carry the same liability coverage? It wouldn't, of course. But if a part-time driver is at fault in an accident that makes me a paraplegic, my bills will be the same as if the accident was caused by a full-time, fully insured cabbie, or Lyft driver, or bus driver, or any other driver who hauls passengers with a CDL.

If that coverage wasn't sufficient, guess who I'd be going after? The city, that's who, for letting these people drive without sufficient coverage. The city means -- wait for it -- the taxpayers.

Do you think Uber or Lyft want to pay the full time rate for insurance coverage for their part-time drivers? Hell no they don't. They want to pay the minimum allowable, and stick the taxpayers for any additional liability.

The argument shouldn't be about caps. Caps don't mean shit. The argument should be over whether these pirate motherfuckers should be allowed to operate at all. Because if the gutless Council doesn't force them to cover their drivers at the same level as full-time cabbies are required to be covered, then they're not protecting the public, and shouldn't be re-elected.

Posted by Caps don't matter. Insurance matters. on February 25, 2014 at 2:58 PM · Report this
@35 Thanks for your loving tone. Believe it or not, we're in agreement here -- insurance is important and the current system involves a lot of drivers being uninsured (ie their policies wouldn't cover them). Now, I'm not an insurance expert, but I could imagine an insurance product that estimated, perhaps, 10% commercial/90% personal usage and fed these estimates into a predictive model to price a policy that covered commercial usage on, say, weekend evenings. This is not such a complicated mathematical construct and I expect that the actuaries could devise something profitable. I don't think such a product currently exists, and I am not sure whether that is because there just hasn't been much demand until recently or there's no way to make it profitable. Perhaps you can enlighten me.
Posted by wxPDX on February 25, 2014 at 3:32 PM · Report this
@36 Sure, an insurance company could do that. With services like Uber, where GPS tracks all the usage, coming up with an appropriate insurance rate would not be difficult. The hard part is that insurance is seperately regulated by each state and getting new things through like this approved are expensive and time consuming. Not sure the volume would justify it for the insurance company right now.
Posted by drshort on February 25, 2014 at 3:43 PM · Report this
platypusrex256 38
@35 I think you meant to say @33 and not @34? And I think its YOU that doesn't understand insurance. If you drive less, your liability is less. Hence lower monthly payments. Duh.
Posted by platypusrex256 on February 25, 2014 at 4:08 PM · Report this
Actually, all Lyft and UberX drivers are covered by a master blanket policy that will cash out in exactly these situations.

Next question.
Posted by dak7e on February 25, 2014 at 4:10 PM · Report this
platypusrex256 40
@39 exactly. the only insurance problem is when the driver is covered. for example, when taking a fare? when using the app without a fare in the car? in transit to get a fare?
Posted by platypusrex256 on February 25, 2014 at 4:22 PM · Report this
My understanding of these blanket policies is they provide coverage in all circumstances that would currently be covered by your standard CDL situation. I could be wrong. If I am, then this should definitely be discussed.

Bottom line - it's fine if the city wants to set certain levels of minimum insurance. Ultimately, however, w should let the private market decide how to achieve those levels (individual CDL policies vs. group policies, etc.)
Posted by dak7e on February 25, 2014 at 4:36 PM · Report this
"Let the private market decide" = fuck the injured party. The role of the city government is to protect the consumers of these services while at the same time indemnifying itself (that means you and me). If that means interfering in the sacred so-called "free market" through regulation, then so be it.
Posted by chum on February 25, 2014 at 5:25 PM · Report this
platypusrex256 43
@42... I think he means to say "let rational educated people decide whats good for themselves" because in all honesty, the Lyft/Uber self-regulation exceeds that of any city. If you lose your keys, wallet or glasses in one of their cars, its relatively painless to get your item back. Its in their best interest that you leave a satisfied customer and a big part of that is ensuring the safety for all parties involved.
Posted by platypusrex256 on February 25, 2014 at 5:32 PM · Report this
@39 I think the issue is that the driver is required to have their own vehicle insurance in addition to the blanket policy from Uber. The rub is that insurance companies exclude "for hire" vehicles from their personal lines policies. The driver must buy a commercial policy rated for taxi use. And this is much much more expensive.
Posted by drshort on February 25, 2014 at 5:59 PM · Report this
@44: Exactly, and this is what appears to be holding up the works. There is *no* reason whatever why these drivers should *not* have these taxi-level policies, and why Uber, Lyft, etc., should not be paying for them. Except, of course, that they don't want to.
Posted by fine3458 on February 25, 2014 at 6:24 PM · Report this
What the history of taxi regulation actually shows is that independent operators that pick people up off the street need to be regulated, but that call-up companies are best left to the market. The key is to stop treating the two like they're the same thing.
Posted by I have always been... east coaster on February 25, 2014 at 6:47 PM · Report this
Goldy 47
@34 et al, Not everybody has smart phones. Not everybody has credit cards. Technology has not fixed everything that led to failure the last time we deregulated the taxi industry.

A two-year pilot program. That is all the council is voting on. Two years to experiment with caps and find the right balance. Possibly that balance will be no caps. Personally, I think think for-hire training, licensing, and insurance requirements may drive away many part-time TNC drivers, making caps less necessary.
Posted by Goldy on February 25, 2014 at 7:27 PM · Report this
ugh... leave my preferred choice of transportation service alone. If you want to use a 10 year old yellow Crown Victoria guided by a giant one-way pager terminal from the 1980's and a chip-on-the-shoulder driver then have at it. In the meantime, I would like to pay a little extra for my 5 minute arrival times, direct driver contact, live tracking on iphone, and comfortable, pleasant smelling vehicles. If the taxi industry focused on improving customer experience and invested in modernization over the last 10 years instead of just protecting their industry then there wouldn't have been a market for these TNC's in the first place. I am dumbfounded how the taxi industry missed the smartphone revolution but just because some people only have CD players or ipods doesn't mean the rest of us should have to give up Spotify. Taxi's can continue servicing folks without smart phones, just like Walmart continues selling CD's, everyone gets what they want.
Posted by Tiredprogressive on February 25, 2014 at 8:27 PM · Report this
platypusrex256 49

but technology HAS addressed the issues. that's what you fail to admit. uber/lyft is cheaper. you can easily dispute the charges if the driver takes you the wrong way. drivers get punished if they refuse short trips. prices are up front when you order. NAME ONE THING that is unresolved. seriously.

in addition to technology developments, there are some serious economic developments since 1979. we're not in a giant gas crisis, for example. also, seattle employment isn't dropping through the floor. times are different.

and from a bigger picture, we're not talking about deregulation. we're talking about improved self-regulation. uber/lyft does a better job at regulating their own than taxi commission ever could or will. they have a vested interest in keeping people happy and being fair.

i think you're just fishing for reasons to reject the new times because they challenge your politics or whatever. and you need to stop. be a little more practical and less ideological.
Posted by platypusrex256 on February 25, 2014 at 9:39 PM · Report this
Goldy 50
@49 Again, folks here seem to ignore the fact that NOT EVERYBODY HAS A SMARTPHONE AND A CREDIT CARD!!!! By law, taxis accept both cash and scrip, and you don't need a smartphone or a computer to hail one.

There's a whole other world of people out there who don't live like us. Their needs count too.
Posted by Goldy on February 25, 2014 at 10:55 PM · Report this
@50 There will always be need for taxis, even if we legitimize the TNCs. Tourists, cash payers, non-smartphone owners, et al will keep them going. Why do you think the needs of the people who can't or won't use TNCs justify limiting the options of people who've moved on to a better model? We don't need to experiment with some silly pilot program and see what happens. We've had TNCs for a few years, it's time to legitimize them.

Posted by Subdued Excitement on February 26, 2014 at 2:33 AM · Report this
^^^ Apparently 36% - 39% of people still don't have smart phones and probably an even smaller % of those people use cab services regularly... Regardless, that small minority can still use yellow cab (even via a landline!), just like they do today, while the majority of folks can continue to choose either. 36% of Seattle and 62% of the suburbs are not cool enough to prefer the more tech savvy and modern Stranger over the classic Seattle Weekly. The Stranger is now starting to hoard the more coveted young tech savvy demographic and that is just not fair to the ol' SW. The City Council should have hearings on that next before we lose the SW; consider caps on the number of hip writers the Stranger is allowed to use, force Dan to also write a column for the SW, and make sure that the Stranger cover art is always accessible and safe to the elderly and Christians just like SW has always done. Don't worry, the City Council will be sure there is a Stranger representative on the new Commission!
Posted by Tiredprogressive on February 26, 2014 at 3:26 AM · Report this
So you think without regulation the traditional taxi companies will stop taking landline calls and cash?

Things you can still do in Seattle without regulations forcing them to exist: Buy records, rent/buy VHS tapes, get your VCR repaired, get a phone book, buy an oil filter for your Plymouth, pay with cash anywhere other than the UW campus, buy film for your non-digital camera, etc etc -- The point is Seattle is a much more populous, vibrant area than it was 30 years ago when dereg failed the market segment you're worried about. Dragging TNCs into regulation that has failed the consumer -- and regulation has most certainly failed the consumer when taxi companies average sub50% reviews -- is not a rational solution.
Posted by sanotehu on February 26, 2014 at 6:18 AM · Report this
platypusrex256 54

You're all "OMG. You're saying the new option isn't available to EVERYBODY? We should nip that in the bud!"

And we're saying chill out. For those who can afford it, its better. And for the 6 people out there who don't have smartphones or debit/credit cards and yet STILL afford cabs (who are these people honestly?) they can call a traditional cab. They'll always be there, albeit smaller in number.
Posted by platypusrex256 on February 26, 2014 at 9:02 AM · Report this
The burden should be on those arguing to change the status quo. There's got to be a better reason than regulations bad, market good.

The status quo in February 2014 is that people are using TNCs, experiencing a high degree of customer satisfaction in the process, and not causing any obvious or identified problems that I've seen any evidence for. You can't shrink a thriving industry by ~75% with an arbitrary cap (I've heard no effort to explain how 300 was arrived at as the proper number) and claim you're protecting the status quo.

The appeal to authority in this post represents a new low in your coverage of this issue. Some of us are old enough to remember when 89% of the city council, who I have no doubt sat through a lot of hearings and meetings on the subject, decided the goddamned deep bore tunnel, with shaky funding and no overrun plan, was a good fucking idea.
Posted by david jw on February 26, 2014 at 2:37 PM · Report this
@49 Again, folks here seem to ignore the fact that NOT EVERYBODY HAS A SMARTPHONE AND A CREDIT CARD!!!! By law, taxis accept both cash and scrip, and you don't need a smartphone or a computer to hail one.

This would be a devastating response to all the people who are arguing taxis should be banned, since we Uber and Lyft show we don't need them anymore. If they existed.
Posted by david jw on February 26, 2014 at 2:45 PM · Report this
platypusrex256 57

I saw that too... I think Goldy would have been first in line at the turn of the century to ban bicycles. Because underneath his thinly veiled liberalism is a conservative who is just afraid of new ideas ;)
Posted by platypusrex256 on February 26, 2014 at 3:02 PM · Report this
Sam Levine 58

"Taxis serve people without smartphones, without credit cards, and who pay with cash or scrip. The TNCs do not."

The intersection of the venn diagram of people that are too poor to have a smart phone or a credit card but are rich enough to pay for a taxi is really small.

This being said if there isn't sufficient demand for this that service will go away, but I don't think it will. You're just shilling for a special interest that can treat customers like shit and provide awful service because of your beloved "regulation".

"Taxis also pick up hailing passengers." "Are you suggesting that unregulated drivers in unmarked cars should be stopping to pick up hailing customers?"

Make it legal and somebody will. We already let people drive cars, this isn't a marginal decrease in safety.
Posted by Sam Levine on February 28, 2014 at 8:03 AM · Report this
OMG people are going on dates without a license or insurance! OMG people are selling lawn mowing service without a medallion! this isshown to fail because sometimes they do a crappy job, or overcharge, or don't show up, or smoke pot and don't do the job! so let's require that there be only 300 lawn mower folks in seattle...then they can borrow $200K to get a medallion....then sit back and rent it out making monopoly profits and making the ones doing the mowing work 70 hours a fact, why not put this model on EVERYTHING since it works so well for taxis!

only 1,000 restaurants in seattle.
only 400 painters.
only 200 doctors.

just think if we made monopolies everywhere, we could get even more campaign donations each year as we fiddle and faddle with the loopholes, exemptions, regultions and changes! KA CHING for the politicians!
Posted by expand this model! on February 28, 2014 at 10:38 AM · Report this

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