Tuesday, August 16, 2022

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DC Council Chooses to Privilege Uber AND Taxis

Last week, the DC City Council backed off on its plans to hand a regulatory privilege to the DC taxi industry. Last July, the Council had considered adopting legislation that seemed tailor-made for the taxis. It would have required luxury “sedan-class” vehicles, which compete with taxis, to charge no less than five times (!) the rate that taxis charge. The legislation directly challenged Uber, a popular service that allows customers to summon clean and reliable sedans to their location using a cell phone app.

Like Emily, I was excited to hear that the Council had come to its senses. But then I read the legislation. As I wrote in this weekend’s Examiner:

To be sure, this is a significant improvement over what council members were considering. They will not be regulating a valuable consumer service out of existence so that a well-connected taxi industry can maintain its precious monopoly. But when you dig into the legislation, it appears that the council earned Uber’s praise by — you guessed it — finding a way to privilege Uber. That’s because the legislation mandates that “public vehicles-for-hire using a digital dispatch service shall be licensed.”

As tech reporter Ryan Lawler points out, the licensing requirement erects a barrier to entry for other businesses.

For the full story, including some info on what the taxis got in return, click here.