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Beltway Confidential

Regulatory robbery: Will the Seattle City Council protect taxis from Uber and other competitors?

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Beltway Confidential,Transportation,Timothy P. Carney,Seattle

In coming days, the Seattle City Council will vote on a proposed new set of regulations for taxi services. Like such regulations in many cities, Seattle's would protect existing businesses by keeping out new competitors.

Geekwire describes the rules thus:

The draft ordinance would require ride-sharing companies, among a bevy of other rules, to obtain a $50,000 annual license to operate as a transportation network company, and have no more than 100 vehicles driving a maximum of 16 hours per week ....

This would effectively kick out of Seattle startup rideshare businesses like Uber, Sidecar, and Lyft.

Here's one blogger's description of a taxi driver's argument at the council meeting:

[Rideshare] companies come from out of state, come to this state, and have been operating for close to two year illegally, he says. The city has looked the other way, and has done nothing about it, and is now entertaining the idea of legalizing them. That is going to put for-hire companies out of business and the public at risk.

A U.S. Army veteran, he says this doesn’t represent what he fought for. Giving these companies a business opportunity is immoral, he says, to loud cheers from the audience.

This is a typical battleground in regulatory fights. Incumbent businesses feel competition is unfair, and they turn to government to protect them.

Similar examples:

Taxis in Dallas

How Hollywood tried to kill the video business

D.C. tour guides trying to kill Segway tours

Regulations cracking down on monks selling caskets

Restaurants fighting food trucks

And countless more ...

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