DC Dumps Bill To Force Uber Into High Prices; Complains That The Bill Was To Help Uber
from the regulatory-capture dept
Earlier today, we wrote about the city of Washington DC working on a a bill that would require startup car service Uber to charge five times as much as a cab, arguing that they need to regulate what is considered a “premium class.” They don’t explain why one needs to regulate what’s premium and what’s not, but that’s what you get in a massively regulated/anti-competitive market. The public outcry over this regulation, however, has resulted in the Councilmember who wrote the amendment, Mary Cheh, backing down and shelving it.
As we noted in our earlier post, Cheh had said all along that the amendment was actually an attempt to legalize Uber, after a Taxicab Commission “sting” earlier this year, which claimed that Uber was acting illegally. In response to all of this, Cheh seems upset, since she says that she worked with Uber to create the amendment, and was blindsided by the criticism:
“Several months ago, Uber contacted me and asked to work together to legalize services like Uber in the District… Since then, I have met with Uber many times, negotiated in good faith, and believed that I had reached an agreement with them last week.”
Others have suggested that parts of the amendment could be acceptable if they remove the minimum pricing rules. Uber, for its part, claims that it’s always believed the service was legal in DC, so it never believed that the amendment was needed to “make it legal.” For what it’s worth Uber clearly has benefited from this fight, as it drew an awful lot of publicity to the company’s presence in DC (and elsewhere). Either way, it seems difficult to see how regulating a high price benefits Uber.
And, in the end, what you’re left with are questions about why taxi licensing needs to be so restrictive and so all-encompassing. Are there concerns about keeping passengers from being ripped off and keeping them safe? Sure, but there seem to be ways to deal with that which don’t involve entirely regulating every aspect of the market, limiting competition and setting the actual pricing. But, in the end, as we’ve seen in other markets, those in regulated markets tend to figure out ways to use the regulations to their own advantage…