Are There Too Many Taxis In St. Louis? Let’s Ask the Taxi Companies …
There is an interesting article in the Post-Dispatch this morning about taxicab regulations in St. Louis, a subject we have written about before. There are some insane statements in the story, as well as some very promising ones from a practical perspective. First, the crazy ones (emphasis added):
Louis Hamilton, chairman of the taxicab commission, said he suspects there are still too many cabs for the St. Louis market, and Mundy’s study should either confirm or dispel that notion.
You know what does a good job of determining the proper number of cabs? It’s called the free market, something the taxicab commission apparently has very little faith in or knowledge about. Here’s another commissioner, who works for the largest cab company in the area (emphasis added):
Rudawsky said the cab industry is "always feast or famine." When there are major events in town or on holidays such as New Year’s Eve, there are times when there aren’t enough cabs, he said. "But the majority of time, you could say there are too many."
This reminds me of P.J. O’Rourke’s writings on population control, which I believe he titled, "Just Enough of Me, Way Too Much of You." What are the odds that when Mr. Rudawsky says there are too may cabs, he means too many of his competitors’ cabs?
We have been discussing this issue around the office today, think-tank style. It seems that this new report they have commissioned is going to attempt to answer the question of whether there are too many cabs, but I doubt it will even consider the idea that a commission like this should not be setting any number at all. That said, there are some promising statements from the researcher, including this one about the fact that airport cabs can only take people away from the airport, but not to it:
"It’s not efficient at all," Mundy said. "And sadly enough, it’s not as unique as it should be. But most communities around the country are starting to realize that ? it really makes no sense to have one-way traffic in either direction."
The best thing the Metropolitan Taxi Commission has done is remove the restrictions for driving between county and city lines. Now, if they would get rid of those restrictions at the airport, too, that would be real progress even if they continue to think it is their job to determine the "correct" number of taxis.