Missouri Legislature Considers Disbanding Saint Louis Taxi Commission
Recently, a bill was filed in the Missouri State Legislature (HB 2284) that would repeal the enabling legislation for the Saint Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission (MTC). If such a bill were to pass, it would eliminate the MTC.
We’ve written about this commission many times before, but to sum things up:
· At least four of the nine commission members are taxi industry representatives.
· The body used its regulatory discretion to pass pointless rules and freeze market entry for new companies. The MTC felt it had the ability to discern taxicab demand in the region, as well as the right to control taxi supply and industry practices.
· The MTC dragged its feet over the entry of Uber and other ridesharing services, with regularly evolving justifications. While most other large cities initiated reforms to welcome these types of companies, the MTC still fights to block Uber from Saint Louis.
· The commission itself devolved into bickering and infighting, with some members disgracing themselves and the region as a whole in the public arena.
The story of the MTC is a story of regulatory failure. A body designed to protect consumer interests was captured by industry representatives. The body then made competition very difficult or impossible, and essentially regulated out market innovation. If it were not for the disruptive effects of Uber, Lyft, and companies like them, does anyone doubt that it would have been business as usual at the MTC?
The for-hire vehicle market, and Saint Louis, are changing. The MTC, often using state enabling statutes as a shield, has shown itself incapable of dealing with this reality. Maybe Saint Louis would be better off without this taxicab commission.