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Dangerous taxis: Manchester's regulation problem

The City of Manchester cracked down on unlicensed taxi cab operators last Friday. After trolling Craigslist for people advertising taxi services, police ticketed three drivers who answered phone calls and showed up to take them where they wanted to go. Don't you feel safer now that the city has been purged of these unlawful transportation providers?

Unlicensed taxis are a danger to the public because they don't have amenities such as expensive insurance coverage, mandatory driver background checks, and inspected vehicles, say city officials. Without the slightest acknowledgement of the irony, they touted the benefits of municipal taxi licensing just days after impounding every single licensed taxi cab in the city for safety violations.

It seems not to have occurred to any city official that we have both black market taxis and unsafe licensed taxis for the same reason: overly burdensome cab regulations. Those regulations pose a significant barrier to entry, which encourages people to offer their services underground. The regulations also outlaw competition based on price, which makes it difficult for licensed cab companies to maximize profits, which leads to cost-cutting measures such as delaying repair work.

The city has a serious cab regulation problem, not a serious cab problem. Reduce the regulations so that they encourage entry into the field and robust competition, and watch taxi service improve dramatically.

Eric Church
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