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New York Times Editorial Board Thinks Uber Is Too Popular, Demands Price Floors

America's paper of record demands an end to transit innovation.

Erik McGregor/Sipa USA/NewscomErik McGregor/Sipa USA/NewscomThe problem with ridesharing is it works too well. Or that's the thesis of an editorial this week in The New York Times.

Sure, the Times concedes, these app-based transit companies are making intracity travel easier. Ridesharing apps have "been a boon to people trying to get around town," especially those ill-served by public transit. But they also "lay waste to the livelihoods of taxi drivers and turn New York's already busy streets into glorified parking lots."

To remedy this problem, America's paper of record taps a couple ideas that have been gathering dust since the 1930s, including a price floor for rides, a minimum guaranteed fare for drivers, and subjecting ridesharing companies to the same regulations as taxis (because "it makes little sense for the city to regulate the old and new guard of for-hire cars differently when many New Yorkers use them interchangeably").

Some of these ideas are already getting traction. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has suggested capping the number of ridesharing cars allowed in the city, while New York City Councilman Brad S. Lander (D-Brooklyn) has introduced a bill that would give the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission the power to set a price floor for ridesharing drivers and to mandate that these drivers be paid at least the same as drivers of traditional taxis.

What these politicians and editorialists are missing is that what the Times calls the "Uber problem" is evidence of the model's success.

Falling returns to taxi operators means consumers are opting for a service that better meets their needs and is offered at a lower price. Increasing traffic congestion shows that consumers are making the switch, and indeed that ridesharing is expanding the market for trips within New York City.

In other words, more people are travelling to places they want to be, and they're doing so at a lower cost. These benefits are accruing to riders because of an innovative business model that allows ridesharing companies to both route around the taxi cartel and to rapidly expand or contract the size of their fleets in response to how many people want rides at a given time. Far from welcoming this innovation, the Times and likeminded officials want to tear it all down with price floors and one-size-fits-all regulations.

Such rules will only make the city's transportation problems worse.

For starters, trying to craft regulations that treat taxi companies and Uber drivers the same because customers flit between the two services is nonsensical when their business models are so different. You might as well decide to regulate Greyhound and Southwest identically because both service the same demand for intercity travel.

The likely result—particularly given the Times' interest in protecting the taxi industry—will be to saddle rideshare companies with ill-fitting regulations that raise costs and deter them from even operating in the city.

A price floor would likely be even worse, pricing sensitive riders out of the market while failing to provide drivers with a better wage, to help the taxi industry, or even to tackle congestion.

Currently, drivers for Uber, Lyft, and other services enter or leave the market based on the price they can fetch for offering a ride, which is in turn based on the number of people demanding rides at a given time. Should the government impose a price floor on rides while changing nothing else, fewer riders will be willing to pay the higher mandated fares while more drivers will not get the hint that their services are no longer in demand.

The result will be plenty of drivers still circulating the city's roads hunting for a shrinking pool of customers, increasing congestion and competing with taxis, but without the benefit of actually taking people to and from their destination.

The only fix proposed by the Times that has any promise is congestion pricing—basically a dynamic toll that rises or falls with the number of cars on the road—and then plowing that into shoring up the city's ailing public transit system.

At the risk of having to hand back my libertarian card, I don't think there's anything wrong with asking drivers to pay more for a faster trip, then using that that money to compensate deterred motorists with better transit service that offers them a real alternative to driving. In theory, that should work in a place like New York City, and particularly Manhattan, where transit can serve as a substitute for a lot of automobile trips.

In practice, it's far from clear that the dreadfully incompetent Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the city's buses and trains, would actually spend any additional revenue wisely. So even this solution has problems.

Still, points for a proposal that mimics one of the innovative elements of ridesharing—a dynamic price managing supply and demand across the road network—rather than trying to squeeze innovation out of the system altogether.

The goal should be to create more options for riders looking to get where they want go. Companies like Uber and Lyft are doing just that. Any future reforms should build on what they're doing, not regulate them out of existence.

Photo Credit: Erik McGregor/Sipa USA/Newscom

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  • damikesc||

    Well, Uber shouldn't have been trying to get in nice and tight with Progs this whole time.

    Because, truly, I do not care what happens to them.

    Is it a bad idea? Yup. But if Uber is punished, it doesn't really make me feel bad.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    Because, truly, I do not care what happens to them.

    Then you must not be a libertarian. Because we typically defend the right of consumers to come to agreements with businesses who offer services, without coming under attack by the government.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    There is only so much time in a day. It's OK to pick your battles.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    Because, truly, I do not care what happens to them.

    If you're a libertarian you should. We typically defend free association.

  • damikesc||

    Sorry, but if you decide to support a group that will kneecap you, then you should be willing to deal with the consequences.

    It's not like the Progs were quiet about their dislike of Uber. They still sucked up to them. C'est la vie. They made a choice and they now have the need to deal with their decisions.

    Protecting people from bad ideas is about as far from a good idea as humanly possible.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    "Sucking up" was good business because it kept the "progs" from enforcing existing laws which state unequivocally that the services Uber provides are illegal. Having "progs" on your side is a good thing, even if you don't agree with their policies. Why? Because using the force of the state, the "progs" can make your life a nightmare.

    Nevertheless, we should care about the blatant violation of basic rights of free association, regardless of what we think about the group exercising those rights. Rights don't exist only for our political allies. They're fundamental human rights. Likewise, we should care about the millions of consumers whose rights are likewise trampled when the government intervenes.

  • BYODB||

    I agree with both of you. Uber is reaping what it has sown, and if Uber is publically executed and people are left with only taxi's maybe people will actually wise the fuck up but I suspect they'll just blame Uber for cutting service when their costs go up. People are retarded like that. So while I come to the defense of Uber, that defense necessarily must include 'so you fucked up Uber, did you learn something?'

    Also their push for autonomous vehicles sort of kneecaps their own model too, but it's their choice to drive themselves out of business. That's something I won't defend them on.

  • swampwiz||

    What kneecapping? Driverless cars will allow Uber to get rid of the pesky humans' wages.

  • Hank Phillips||

    All they are saying is give naked coercion by deadly force another chance! Is that too much to ask?

  • Longtobefree||

    There is a country song "Give me one more last chance"

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Uber and Lyft are good for consumers, but the Gray Lady has a note. Maybe create a medallion system for ride sharing services and so on and so on...

  • CE||

    NY had a medallion system for ride sharing services for decades. They were called taxis. Rather than congesting the streets with enough cars, they congested the sidewalks with pedestrians waiting for rides.

  • Rich||

    Obviously the solution is guaranteed $15/hr taxi-driver jobs for anyone who wants one.

  • CE||

    15 bucks an hour in New York? Needs to be at least 30, you piker.

  • Jerryskids||

    "it makes little sense for the city to regulate the old and new guard of for-hire cars differently when many New Yorkers use them interchangeably".

    Now who could argue with that?

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    Anyone with more than two brain cells to rub together?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Seems reasonable to me. The problem is they just assume the right way is to regulate Uber more, rather than deregulate Taxis.

  • MichaeI Hihn||

    People seem to have some trouble telling "good" from "good for me".

  • BYODB||

    And there it is: The obvious and correct argument.

    I'd give you a gold star, but I'm afraid you might be Jewish. (/joke)

  • I'm Here, for MOAR Hihn||

    Poke the bear! Poke the bear! Poke the bear!

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    I read that and concluded that it's the perfect example of regulation not being necessary. So I agree with the statement -- it makes no sense for the city to regulate things differently. Taxis and uber should be regulated the exact same way. We should pick the regulation system which works better, and that is clearly the uber regulation system.

  • Rich||

    "it makes little sense for the city to regulate legal opioids and illegal heroin differently when many New Yorkers use them interchangeably".

    *** ducks ***

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    What are you ducking for? You're right!

  • BYODB||

    And, in that case as well, the State is saying 'you're right, we're going to push opioids out of the market entirely'. Egads.

  • BigT||

    "it makes little sense for the city to regulate legal political contributions and illegal contributions differently when many New Yorkers use them interchangeably".

    I'll continue to avoid the poison apple

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    The point of regulation is to protect consumers.

    In this case, we need to protect taxi drivers who consume travelers and medallions.

  • Microaggressor||

    Protect consumers from the scourge of affordable transportation.
    NYT always looking out for the little guy.

  • Longtobefree||

    It makes absolute sense if you choose the option of repealing the taxi regulations. Then they are both (un)regulated the same.

  • Linux||

    This approach to governing is exactly why when anyone argues that progressives are allies to the poor I laugh at them. In order to protect these people from engaging in transactions of services for compensation they want to drive up prices with price floors, reduce the jobs available by capping the number of cars allowed, and while I don't see it mentioned in the article I imagine this will eventually include the inevitable licensing fees. It's like they see people improve their lot in lives and feel the need to put everyone back in their place, which is relying on government services.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    This approach to governing is exactly why when anyone argues that progressives are allies to the poor I laugh at them.

    You nailed it. Time and time again, so-called progressives are not acting in a way that suggests that helping the poor is anywhere on their list of motivations. Reason has done a good job of highlighting all the ways that the regulation state hurts poor people, but then they're accused by Reason commenters of virtue signaling... Because didn't you know, as libertarians we're not supposed to advocate for the poor or minorities.

  • MichaeI Hihn||

    People yell at limit-government types for not "helping" the poor, except the help isn't help, it commoditizes the lives of those with fewest options and resources.

    We could help the poor by taking them off the commodities market. The tricky part is that human communication is fucking fucked. In order for anyone to hear us say that this might not be working, first they must listen, and folks often don't do that. The process seems to be: We know that we are right, so we pay attention to others' agreement or disagreement instead of what they're saying. Since we already know the right answer, all we need to know in regards to what others think on the subject is just whether they agree with us.

    Never mind getting progressives to come to an accord with us over the poor, I suspect they can't even hear us argue for a different path. Communication shut down when the right answer with bad results was challenged.

  • BigT||

    "This approach to governing is exactly why when anyone argues that progressives are allies to the poor I laugh at them."

    WTF. The progs wanna make ALL taxi drivers rich. New fare min should be $150.

  • damikesc||

    Basically. The uproar over the non-tax deductibility of state taxes showed that in even greater relief. Fury that the super rich in NY and CA might have to pay more for a tax cut that benefits the poor should show how serious the concern is.

    Much as bemoaning the high price of housing in CA and then making demands to make houses cost even MORE does.

    Hey, didn't a recent study indicate that those most passionate about climate change are the least likely to do anything on their own about it?

  • kev95||

    I drive for both uber and lyft and i can say this article was sponsored by these companies... uber and lyft is ripping both passengers and drivers off with the upfront pricing. They would charge a passenger $120 for a fare that usually cost $52 from Manhattan to JFK via yellowcab. Out of that $120 they would pay us drivers $1.17 per mile and $0.23 per minute. Which is about $20 dollars for the distance and $13.80 for the time. Which is around 1 hour travel time. So that equals to around $34 for the driver before expense/toll. So uber/lyft steals $86 from the desperate passenger that's in a rush to get the airport on time. Now lyft wouldn't even show us drivers what they charge the passengers anymore since they brought out the new update.

  • kev95||

    i wish if i could upload these screenshots

  • MAGA my NAGGA||

    It wouldn't change anything.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    What Lyft charges passengers should literally not be of any concern to you. You've agreed to accept $1.17 per mile and $0.23 per minute (plus bonuses, plus tips) in exchange for driving someone to their destination. Whether Lyft collects $20 or $20,000 doesn't alter your decision to continue to drive.

    The real crime here is that you don't have a third option that may offer to pay you more. Because even though it's technically "illegal" for Uber and Lyft to operate in many of these cities, they still do because those laws are almost never enforced (except for places like Austin). However, when other ride sharing companies have attempted to break on to the scene, they're forcibly stopped by local governments. This implies that Uber and Lyft are greasing some palms. Or that their legal team is too big and scary to F with.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Now according to Google Maps, Washington Square in Manhattan is 16 miles from JFK. At time of writing, this takes 36 minutes.

    So for this trip, you're being paid $18.72 for mileage, plus $8.28 for your time. Calculate it out, and you're pulling down over $50 an hour, or a six-figure full-time salary.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    This is one of the great things about Uber. Most Uber drivers do very well for themselves. It's far more lucrative than many other jobs. Drivers typically end up making much more than minimum wage. It provides an option for people who can't get work to feed their families. It's also immune to gender wage gaps and discrimination based on age or race.

    Something that should be celebrated by progressives is being directly attacked. Tells me where people's true motivations lie.

  • LynchPin1477||

    It's also immune to gender wage gaps

    There is a good episode of Freakanomics from not that long ago on this. There is, in fact, a difference in the average income of male and female Uber drivers, but the authors of the study on this say that they can explain all of it as a sum of three factors

    1) Women tend to stop driving for Uber earlier than men and so aren't as experienced in using the service in the most lucrative way (i.e., on average they don't overcome the learning curve as fully as male drivers)
    2) Women tend to take less lucrative routes (e.g. late night rides and bar pickups)
    3) Women tend to drive more slowly then men and so take fewer passengers per unit time

    In other words, there is no overt discrimination leading the pay gap. That doesn't, however, necessarily imply that women just have different preferences when subject to the same work environment. It's possible that women drivers have more negative customer experiences and that is what leads to the first two causes above. Of course, there is no guarantee that is the case either based only on this data.

    So I think you need to be careful when you say something like "immune to gender wage gaps and discrimination based on age or race". The app may not take those things into account when connecting drivers to passengers but there are other dimensions along which bias or bigotry *could* enter in to the experience for both passengers and drivers.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    Very interesting. Thanks. I guess I'd revise what I said to: "reduced wage gaps arising from discrimination." You're right -- the tipping and rating processes provide a potential avenue for discrimination.

  • LynchPin1477||

    Here is a link to the podcast if you are interested
    http://freakonomics.com/podcas.....r-pay-gap/

  • Magnitogorsk||

    You need to include the time it takes to wait for a new passenger then drive and pick them up. And the cost of tolls, gas, and car maintenance. And the fact that that drive only takes 36 minutes if you do it at 4am

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    So what's the time to wait for a new passenger at JFK?

    You're not going to spend $100K a year on maintenance.

    I said 36 minutes at time of writing. That was 10:49 AM. Significantly different than your claim of 4 AM.

  • DajjaI||

    They would charge a passenger $120 for a fare that usually cost $52

    Government cannot protect people from their own stupidity. You live in the Garden of Eden. You should be rejoicing not bellyaching.

  • Juice||

    And you can choose whether to take the fare or not, right?

  • tastefully appointed||

    No, he is forced at gunpoint, it is how Uber has expanded so rapidly.

  • LynchPin1477||

    They would charge a passenger $120 for a fare that usually cost $52 from Manhattan to JFK via yellowcab...So uber/lyft steals $86 from the desperate passenger that's in a rush to get the airport on time

    Then why aren't people taking yellowcab? Also, how is it stealing when passengers have a choice?

  • Jerryskids||

    I suspect it's because the Yellow Cab isn't readily available. Hence the "desperate passenger that's in a rush to get to the airport on time".

    It's like the joke about the lady at the butcher shop complaining that the price on steak is so much higher than the shop down the street and when the butcher asks why she doesn't buy the steak down the street she says it's because they're out of stock down the street. The butcher sniffs that when he's out of stock on the steak he has a much lower price, too.

  • LynchPin1477||

    And if that's the case, that $86 isn't being 'stolen', it's being exchanged for something of value - a more reliable and readily available ride when it's needed (I know you know this, I'm saying it for the benefit of anyone else who stumbles along this thread).

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    I'll tell you why I don't take yellowcab (or any cabs). The drivers are notoriously bad, ESPECIALLY on highways. They don't always take credit cards, and those who don't, often claim that they don't have the correct change so that you'll give up and let them keep it. Also, Uber is transactionless, meaning I don't have to swipe a card or ask for a receipt for reimbursement.

    The chickens are finally coming home to roost. Cabs have been holding us hostage for years. Now there's an alternative.

  • BYODB||

    Yep, this is literally the reason I don't use cab services. That, and here in Dallas a lot of the cab companies show up to pick you up in what appears to be a 1990's era Caravan who's paint has probably half-melted off and clearly has major hail damage.

    I don't mind that their vehicles look like shit, but they also charge me at least 1/3 more than Uber / Lyft.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    The last cab I ever took (outside Austin, which doesn't allow Uber) was a couple years ago when I was in Vegas and a cab brought me to a casino. He said at the end of the trip that his credit card machine was broken. The trip was $10 but all I had was a $20 and he allegedly didn't have change. He said that the only alternative was for all of us to go somewhere to get change for the $20 and then return to the casino. They've engaged in fraudulent practices for a very long time, but this was the final straw for me.

  • I'm Here, for MOAR Hihn||

    I had a friend that I visited one year who lived off E Tropicana in Vegas. After waking up in a random hotel room on the west side of town, I took a cab back to his house. I remember telling him to turn on Tropicana but he said traffic would be too bad at 9am and the highway would be faster. $58 later I came to the same conclusion as you - especially since the night before, at 10pm on Friday night, our fare was $18.

    I wouldn't get out until he gave me his license plate number, his car number and the address and phone number of his company. I got a refund from the cab company after filing a complaint with the city

  • SimonP||

    In New York, from Manhattan? Who knows. I have seen people storking about for their Uber pick-ups while ignoring several hailable cabs. It looks pretty stupid.

    I suspect that many of them are expecting more confortable rides - luxury vehicles predominate in NYC's Uber fleet - but I think the rest of it is just having control over the pick-up. Even in Manhattan there can be some anxiety for the couple of minutes you're scanning for an empty cab.

  • Sevo||

    "I drive for both uber and lyft and i can say this article was sponsored by these companies... uber and lyft is ripping both passengers and drivers off with the upfront pricing."
    I'd suggest:
    1) You're lying
    or
    2) You're stupid enough to keep working in a 'job you don't like.
    Fool of knave, which is it?

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Not an either/or choice, Sevo. He could be both.

  • damikesc||

    So uber/lyft steals $86 from the desperate passenger that's in a rush to get the airport on time.

    Would the alternatives get them there on time?

    That they are willing to pay the premium indicates that they would not.

    I would pay extra to insure I got there when I needed. Thanks for watching out for my best interests though.

  • CE||

    Somehow I think if taxis were available for half the price, people would take them. In LA the taxis always cost more.
    If some people want to pay double for a little more convenience, that's their prerogative.

  • ChuckNorrisBeardFist||

    First, define how Uber/Lyft steals from the passenger. Do they go into their wallet and take the money?
    Second, as someone pointed out - as a driver it isn't your concern what the passenger is charged. You agreed for a fee.

    Funny, if it's $20 dollar distance and 13.8 for time - why aren't people taking Taxis than? If it only cost $52 dollars for yellowcab, than Uber/Lyft would be out of business.

  • damikesc||

    Yeah. It's not like Uber doesn't tell them upfront what the cost is.

    It's why price controls do not work. In a pinch, if you really need something, it being available is far more necessary than it being cheap.

  • BigT||

    "Now lyft wouldn't even show us drivers what they charge the passengers anymore since they brought out the new update."

    And you can't possibly use the app to find out the fare they are charging, could you?

    Apparently you deserve to get ripped off.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    In other words, more people are travelling to places they want to be, and they're doing so at a lower cost.

    How dare they do that! Do they not understand that their only purpose in life is to advance the cause of the Glorious Collective?

  • DajjaI||

    minimum guaranteed fare for drivers

    Well at least maybe Roseanne can finally get off foodstamps.

  • esteve7||

    Fuck Off, Marxists

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    Ride sharing is the perfect example of a system that is unregulated by the state providing better service, better prices, and greater safety than their regulated counterparts. It's a slam dunk win for those of us who advocate for less regulation. The government wants to break it. Maybe their true motivation is to kill our example.

  • DajjaI||

    Yes but I don't use it because I never know whether or not to tip. So I end up just taking a cab.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    That which needs no regulation must be regulated out of existence.

  • Gleep Glop||

    I love that the NYT editorializes on something (incorrectly) that can be looked up with a .005 second search on Google.

    Alas, the comments on the article aren't half bad. I was expecting much worse.

  • NoVaNick||

    Another example of how prog brains are stuck in the 1970s. How many taxi drivers now drive for Uber/Lyft? When I was in Boston a few months ago, I counted a total of three taxis I saw in an 8 hour period. The former taxi drivers are freed from having to pay for a medallion, and might even be able to pursue other jobs or education on the side-but all the progs see is that crappy mass transit, taxis, and tax revenue are threatened.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    I mostly agree, except I witnessed something weird (and I'd argue, fraudulent) in DC last weekend. The cabs there are ALSO driving for Lyft and Uber. But their move is to cancel the trip before they arrive so that you are forced to either: 1) initiate a new Uber ride and wait again; or 2) just resort to using the cab sitting in front of you (the guy who initially canceled your trip) and paying cab prices.

    The only reason I discovered this was because I accidentally captured a screenshot while waiting for my Lyft so I was able to recall the license plate of the guy who canceled. And that's when I told him to go fuck himself. I've alerted Lyft -- let's see if they do anything about it on their end to curb this practice.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Lyft and Uber will both boot anyone who pulls that shit as soon as they become aware of it.

    -jcr

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    Yeah, this is only one guy though. From what I've been told, the entire cab company engages in this activity (comprised of red Prius cabs btw -- a warning to anyone in DC). When their accounts get closed due to too many cancels, they create new accounts. I don't know how they're doing this because Lyft requires a drivers license number, but it's possible that they're using fake IDs or forgery of some kind.

    The easy way to prevent this practice would be for Lyft to start collecting vehicle VIN to ensure that drivers with fake IDs aren't using the same cars each time. It's easier to fake your identity than it is to fake your VIN.

  • TxJack 112||

    In short, they want to regulate Uber and others like they do taxis so the city and county governments can get their share of the money in the form of taxes. New Yorkers are so accepting of regulations for everything when anything emerges that is unregulated, they panic and seek to impose regulations.

  • Microaggressor||

    And they have no clue why it's so expensive to live there.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Lefty socialists demanding that government control the means of production (car service) should all go fuck themselves.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    I think technically it's a fascist policy, not a socialist one. These are mostly private industries. They're not OWNING the means of production, they're simply controlling/partnering with preferred vendors. This is actually quite contrary to what socialism strives for.

  • BYODB||

    Except for the part where functionally they're the same, but I'd agree the arguments are indeed different.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    If you mean they're both authoritarian, then I guess they both share that. (However, socialism can operate without an authoritarian component whereas fascism by definition cannot)

    But functionally the entire economic systems are completely different. Socialists very often rail against fascist policies. For example, socialists suggest that utilities should be owned and operated by the collective (e.g. the state) whereas fascists often suggest that they be privatized and controlled. Global economic policy tends to be nationalist for fascists and globalist for socialists.

  • BYODB||

    I mean they are functionally identical in the end results, since if the government is dictating the actions of privately controlled entities than they are not really privately controlled entities at all. Just because you allow them the illusion of being independent doesn't actually make it so. They might be 'more independent' but that's illusory freedom that can disappear at the whim of the government so...it's not meaningful freedom. It's basically a nominal difference, with a different flavor of justification for more or less identical actions.

    The idea that socialism can operate without an authoritarian component would appear to need a citation, but I assume you're going to use the example of a local commune as opposed to Communist China to arrive at that conclusion.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    I think the difference is far more significant than you're making it out to be. For example, one can be anarchist and the other one by definition has to be the opposite of anarchist. One relies on nationalism and the other relies on the opposite of nationalism. One relies on collective ownership and the other relies on private ownership. The list goes on. Just because we don't like both economic theories doesn't mean they're even remotely similar.

    Citation: do a wikipedia search for "Anarcho-syndicalism" and "Mutualism", just to name two.

  • RabbitHead||

    Who cares which union the zookeeper works for? It's the cages that are the problem.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    They should. But they'd rather fuck you.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Lefty socialists demanding that government control the means of production (car service) should all go fuck themselves.

    In a few years, they'll want the government to ban that too.

  • johngray0||

    Works well for whom? Elites are going to raise Uber prices. Period. For the same reason they like high tolls. Keeps the riff-raff off the roads and ensures more convenience for the wealthy. Oh sure, congestion, pollution, global warming, more "critical" revenue, all of these reasons will be given. But the masses are in the way, now, and need to stay in Queens where they belong.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    This.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Another day, another reason to tell the Times to go fuck themselves.

    -jcr

  • BYODB||


    America's paper of record taps a couple ideas that have been gathering dust since the 1930s, including a price floor for rides, a minimum guaranteed fare for drivers, and subjecting ridesharing companies to the same regulations as taxis (because "it makes little sense for the city to regulate the old and new guard of for-hire cars differently when many New Yorkers use them interchangeably").


    Yeah, I'm honestly a bit confused on why New York doesn't outlaw any non-city vehicle to use the roads given the way they talk about transport. I'm also a bit surprised they haven't gone full-bore autonomous vehicle push yet given that they're one of the few places ballsy enough to outlaw citizen driving while simultaneously giving the city all power over transportation. They're that Progressive, I'd think.


    You'd think a taxi medallion being worth something to the tune of a million bucks is already a little too behind on the supply curve, but you keep doing you New York. Thankfully one day you'll fall into the ocean like the mythical city of Atlantis.


    I'm sure Rhywun could elaborate.

  • Illocust||

    They won't because important people still need to get around workout sharing transport with the little people. That's why they are so pissed off about traffic, it affects the important people's daily commutes.

  • CE||

    At the risk of having to hand back my libertarian card, I don't think there's anything wrong with asking drivers to pay more for a faster trip, then using that that money to compensate deterred motorists with better transit service that offers them a real alternative to driving. In theory, that should work in a place like New York City, and particularly Manhattan, where transit can serve as a substitute for a lot of automobile trips.

    Libertarian card revoked.

    If transit is so great, it should pay for itself.
    Since it has no competition (no one else is digging subway tunnels) and is so great, it should be able to charge a small premium on its own for future upgrades, rather than using the city's police force to collect a small premium from some other industry by force.

  • SimonP||

    If transit is so great, it should pay for itself.

    If part of the benefit that transit provides is not internalized by its users - specifically, by minimizing damage to roads, limiting congestion and air/noise pollution, by reducing demand for free parking on public streets and private businesses/homes, etc. - then we shouldn't expect the optimal level of transit to come about absent subsidy. That is, transit is pretty great - for everyone but especially people not using it. If transit users were forced to cover all of transit's costs, we would get less transit than we would want.

    Besides which, you can't expect to price transit correctly if you're busy subsidizing alternative mode of transportation - namely, driving - which makes those other modes more attractive when fares get high enough. If we're going to make it so that I have to pay nine bucks to bus to work, then we shouldn't subsidize driving so that it costs less than nine bucks to drive to work.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    All good points.

    By analogy, at my work there are two slow elevators next to each other each with their own up/down button. Almost everybody pushes both buttons and gets on the first elevator that arrives. After they get on, the second elevator will eventually stop at the empty floor. If everybody pushed only one button, the elevators would be faster (since they wouldn't be stopping at empty floors all the time). But if you're the ONLY one pushing one button, and everyone else is pushing two buttons, then it's going to be slower for you.

    And so it is with public transit. If you're the only one who takes public transit while everyone else is not, you're going to be more inconvenienced than if you drove. However, if everyone took public transit (at least to the extent that it supported), there would be a net gain.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    New York City is a global metropolis with tourists from all over. It makes sense to preserve the official taxi medallion system with its regulations for the sake of those tourists and let a relatively unregulated Uber compete for the sake of the locals. I would get in the car of a random unlicensed stranger in Romania, but I prefer a licensed taxi driver if I ever need a ride in London.

  • Hail Rataxes||

    These benefits are accruing to riders because of an innovative business model that allows ridesharing companies to both route around the taxi cartel and to rapidly expand or contract the size of their fleets in response to how many people want rides at a given time.

    You misspelled "because VCs like to burn money."

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    Also -- (this is like my 10th post on this article -- you can tell I'm passionate about this topic haha)
    UberPool and Lyft Line are a god send. It not only provides an even lower cost alternative to Uber X, but it also provides additional safety to those who feel uncomfortable alone with drivers. I frequently take Lyft Line because I'm a cheap bastard, and I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that 90% of the Lyft Line passengers are young women. For women who are afraid of being alone in a stranger's car, this is a good option and one that you won't usually have with cabs.

  • BigT||

    Women afraid of being alone, opt for a gang rape situation. Nice.

  • Arcxjo||

    If the remuneration isn't worth the effort, drivers stop bothering and surge pricing accomplishes the price floor already.

  • Longtobefree||

    So which is sadder, a Libertarian site actually does an article about something in the NYT, or hundred of posts in response to something in the NYT?
    Like a certain defeated politician whose anointment was expected, the NYT does not ever again need to be mentioned.

  • SimonP||

    When Reason starts to do its own independent and/or investigative and/or international reporting, then by all means, cast the NYTimes aside.

    Until then, the news has to come from somewhere, and it's not coming from Reason.

  • Page 7||

    If you read the comments on the editorial you'll refreshingly fine that most agree with this column, that taxis be damned and Uber is offering a much better product.

    Maybe the first time that NYT readers disagree with its editorial over market-based solutions.

  • BigT||

    If it was pointed out that Uber is a libertarian solution, you can bet the hate would be flowing freely. Progs are dumb tribalists.

  • TWW||

    The interesting thing is that there was always an alternative to taxis. Twenty years ago, every time I flew into La Guardia, I was propositioned by an un-medallioned driver fro a ride into the city. The Uber app just rationalized this underground economy.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    This is another demonstration of my thesis that if on any given subject you assume that the New York Times has its head firmly up its backside, you won't be wrong often enough to matter.

  • SimonP||

    Yes, the NYTimes's ed board is wrong on this one, bizarrely so.

    But - as it seems must be noted for every story about New York City that appears here - you have to understand NYC politics to understand how the NYTimes got this so wrong. It's not just because they're "progs" (not that they are that progressive in the first place). It's because they belong to the same class of elite New Yorkers who want to drive everywhere but are struggling to deal with the increasing congestion in the city.

    So they've got some data suggesting that ridesharing has contributed to congestion slowdown, and they're trying to wrap their heads around a solution. The best solution - congestion pricing and cordon/bridge tolling - is unpalatable to the city's elite, so they are casting about for scapegoats and alternative solutions.

    There's also some good old-fashioned corruption, insofar as many of those struggling medallion-owners aren't hacks trying to make a living, but investors trying to make good on their return. They'd been talking about getting a bailout, before. Seems that too many people are paying attention to just shovel money at them, so the NYC politicians are looking to undercut Uber.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    I wonder what's Austin's excuse? Even if what you say is true (that congestion needs to be actively managed in NYC), I think it's fair to say that there is also a very strong ideological component likely having to do with the view of regulation and protected groups.

  • SimonP||

    I don't doubt that Austin has its own corrupt municipal politics. Living in NYC has taught me that politicians view the abnegation of power as an asset to be traded for something else. From a certain perspective, if you have the power to ban Uber and Lyft and you don't threaten to do so without first extracting some kind of new revenue source or other benefit from the ridesharing companies, you're just being naive. It doesn't even have to be ideological.

  • Bubba Jones||

    If there is congestion then more people will choose transit leading to more money for ... transit.

  • Empress Trudy||

    Be clear- the number of taxi medallions is regulated by law. The current number is 13,600.

  • swampwiz||

    The state does have a compelling interest in restricting the use of its roads so that they remain functional; however, the proper way to implement this is to require the driver - be it a New Yorker or a yokel from Iowa driving his own car, Abdul from the medallioned taxi company, or the Uber driver - have a transponder and pay a fee for driving around crowded streets. The state does not have a compelling interest in giving a rentier benefit to folks who happen to be medallioned taxi drivers.

    You taking to me?

  • No Yards Penalty||

    ''At the risk of having to hand back my libertarian card, I don't think there's anything wrong with asking drivers to pay more for a faster trip, then using that that money to compensate deterred motorists with better transit service that offers them a real alternative to driving. In theory, that should work in a place like New York City, and particularly Manhattan, where transit can serve as a substitute for a lot of automobile trips."

    Hand back your libertarian card. That's retarded.

  • Gohn Jalt||

    "then using that that money to compensate"

    Grammar error

  • Longtobefree||

    Of course, what the NYT actually wants is to get the plebeians off the road to make way for their limousines.

  • DC Taxi||

    Taxi services have always been on demand and with the great demand in sight; there are several taxi service business owners who are now focused on coming up with new taxi service business plan to make their business standout from their competition and be readily available to their customers anytime and are focused on providing a great passenger service with the intention to retain their customers and make them regular ones, for instance if you we look at Tampa Taxi Service in Tampa and Buffalo Express Taxi Service in Buffalo NY are one of them. Very interesting topic though, Good job and thanks for sharing such a good blog.Your article is so convincing that I never stop myself to say something about it.You're doing a great job.Keep it up

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