What if the Northwest’s cities legally capped the number of pizza delivery cars? What if, despite growing urban population and disposable incomes, our Pizza Delivery Oversight Boards had scarcely issued new delivery licenses since 1975? Pizza delivery would be expensive and slow; citizens would rise up in revolt.
Substitute “taxicab” for “pizza delivery” and you have a reasonable facsimile of the taxi industry in Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver, BC: tightly restricted taxi numbers, high fares, and low availability.
Currently, Houmes writes, Northwest cities (Seattle, Vancouver, B.C., and Portland) have some of the fewest cabs per capita, and some of the highest fares, of all US cities, thanks largely to city laws that restrict the number of cab licenses available (and therefore making those licenses prohibitively expensive). One solution? End restrictions on the number of cab licenses.
Washington, DC, has no limit on the number of cabs. It has plenty of taxis and low prices. The capital city does regulate taxis, insisting, for example, that drivers and vehicles meet safety criteria, that fares be clearly posted, and that meters be accurate. But DC law imposes no lid on taxi licenses. That’s good sense. When we import that approach to Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver, we’ll have more-robust urban taxi fleets and we’ll be able to leave our own cars home more of the time.
Plenty more, including city-by-city comparisons of cab regulations and prices, here.