From an excellent article in yesterday’s Times. Phillip Stevens explains how unnecessary regulation may be adding extortionate amounts to your fare home:
There are two fundamental reasons why the taxi market isn’t working.
In the mid-19th century, laws were passed to limit town centre congestion by horses and carriages. Many local authorities still use these laws to restrict the number of licences granted to taxis, which results in fewer taxis on the road than are needed — explaining the long queues at taxi ranks in certain towns on a Saturday night.
Second, the fear of unscrupulous drivers extorting hapless passengers has resulted in highly regulated fares. Instead of relying on competition, as is the case for most other services, local authorities set fares with the taxi industry. The needs of the travelling public are secondary in these opaque discussions.
With too few “rank and hail” taxis on the road, all of which charge too much, what can be done? We need a free market in taxis, in which any individual or company can offer a service, providing they can show the driver is safe and the vehicle roadworthy. The distinction between “rank and hail” and phone-only minicabs should also be abolished.
The article is well worth a read. Great stuff from the people at IPN.