I wrote about on-demand car service Uber back in July in “Why Taxis Suck and What You Can Do About It” and in September on New York City’s war against Uber which was then trying to make the city’s taxi cabs more available and more efficient.
It seems that regulators have their own trade group, and the International Association of Transportation Regulators has gotten together to strategize over how to put on-demand car service app Uber out of business.
Taxi and limousine regulators from 15 U.S. and Canadian cities plan to release proposed guidelines Friday aimed at reining in some of the smartphone applications and online services that are radically changing how customers hail cabs.
The rules were drawn up by a task force of the International Association of Transportation Regulators with members from New York, Chicago, Boston, Houston, San Francisco, Toronto and elsewhere, who will address emerging technology that allows passengers to hire cars and pay their fares using smartphones.
By developing new rules together — even though it’s just a draft recommendation, which would have to be passed separately in each jurisdiction — the regulators give themselves ‘cover’.
Cabs don’t like car services to be more convenient and more affordable, so they lobby against the new competition that Uber introduces into the market.
But whenever a city tries o regulate Uber out of existence, its customers rise up and protest.
Most of the claims made against Uber are downright silly. Megan McArdle finds that claims that consumers have ever complained to regulators about UBer are fake. Concerns about the safety of Uber vehicles are silly, since they don’t have their own cars — they just help existing, licensed vehicles to find customers and utilize down time to generate extra revenue.
But if they can portray moves towards regulation as in line with other cities, doing what regulatory associations recommend, then they’re being responsible and not going out on a limb. They give themselves cover.
I thought this was just special.
“The regulators really resent being branded as cronies and antitechnology,” Mr. Daus said. “It couldn’t be further from the truth. But they have to do their job and make sure it’s safe, customers aren’t being ripped off, and people aren’t being hurt.”
Of course these regulators might be able to feel better if they weren’t actually protecting their cronies (and contributors) and weren’t actually acting against technology that makes their industries more efficient and brings greater revenue to drivers and greater convenience to consumers.
(HT: Erik H.)