from the another-week,-another-disruption-stifled dept
Last week, lots of attention was paid to New Jersey’s idiotic and corrupt decision to block Tesla from operating its own stores there, because car dealers don’t like the competition and hate the idea of car manufacturers selling direct. As we noted, any such move is a pretty clear sign of corruption at the state level, favoring political allies over the public. There are similar issues at the city level, and this week’s corruption highlight award goes to Seattle, where the city council has massively limited ridesharing/app-based transportation services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. The law doesn’t ban them outright, but makes them a lot less useful for consumers (and drivers) by saying each can only have 150 cars on the road at any time — which is a hell of a lot less than the combined 3,000 they had.
There’s simply no reason for this, other than to protect the legacy taxi providers. If consumers want those app-based services, why are they being blocked? And, of course, because so few cars will be available, those services become a lot less desirable (less likely to have a car available nearby, etc.). The end result is that it sucks for everyone. People wanting to get places will have fewer options. People who might want to earn money as a driver cannot. These new innovative companies are held back. The only “winners” are the current taxi owners who have less competition.
One council member, Tom Rasmussen pointed out the absurdity of this, and offered up an amendment (which was voted down) that said there shouldn’t be any caps on drivers from such services:
“Let’s listen to what the public is saying,” he said. “Let’s not cut supply when demand is so high.”
The public? The public? Ha! They’re not lobbying like the taxi and limo companies.
As another council member, Tim Burgess notes:
“Someone told me that trying to limit TNCs would be like prohibiting Netflix because we wanted to protect Blockbuster,” Burgess noted.
Indeed. And yet… it’s now the law in Seattle. In a city known for having a fairly thriving innovation and tech scene, the city council has just made it clear that innovation that upsets local incumbents just isn’t welcome.