There’s nothing like watching a rent-seeking industry fall on its own sword.
After staging a mass protest outside Parliament House in May against ridesharing company Uber, whereby some 200 drivers parking their cars, shutting off their meters, and blockading streets, Premier Colin Barnett has flagged that the Government will likely change the law to permit Uber ridesharing:
“I’d have no hesitation using Uber if I wished to, but I’d use other normal taxis as well,” he said.
He told 720 ABC Perth the State Government could not ignore Uber’s popularity and would look at legislative changes to legalise it.
“Uber doesn’t operate within the law, we all know that,” he said.
“The reality that I have to face and the Transport Minister has to face is people are using it…
“So we would like to somehow bring Uber within the law … maybe it means them adjusting, maybe it means the law adjusting, maybe it means the taxi industry adjusting”…
“I think if Uber is to continue to operate here they do have meet safety requirements,” Mr Barnett said.
“But the public will choose, and I know a lot of people do have confidence in the Uber service, particularly younger people.”
Great to see.
As argued frequently, ride-sharing is an economic no-brainer, providing greater choice to consumers and lowering costs, while also improving productivity by facilitating a more efficient use of the existing transport fleet. Yet, economic no-brainers tend to be resisted by incumbent interests who are threatened by it.
Everywhere in the world where ridesharing has been tried, a storm of opposition has been aroused by vested interests; not just in the Taxi industry, but in public transport monopolies and government.
As argued by Colin Clark (a distinguished colleague of J M Keynes), in possibly his last published work, “Regional and Urban Location” (1982):
Anyone who defends the taxi monopoly, and restrictions on multiple hiring, while at the same time complaining about the use of fuel, is totally incoherent. The abolition of the taxi monopoly would cheapen travel, save fuel, reduce congestion, and would have one further great advantage, to which hardly any attention has been drawn, namely that it would provide employment opportunities for the unskilled…..
All that should be required to operate a ridesharing service is meeting basic performance standards, a valid driver’s licence, and a registered and road worthy car. People should be free to choose their transport options, not have them dictated to by the government for the purposes of protecting the Taxi cartel’s ‘licencing’ monopoly, which gleans an economic rent from purposely-limiting the number granted.