Pesky Pensacola taxi permits

December 5, 2013 § 1 Comment

From June to the end of September, I was at the Pensacola military base for aviation school. Since Marine squadrons were under lock-down, we were not privileged of driving. Taxis were our sole transportation. This was my first experience dealing with taxis, and I was initially confused as to why a van would pick up two people. “Why not a sedan?” I thought. This literally consumed my thoughts during the day.

I finally got my answer in September on the way to the airport, by myself, in a van. The driver informed me there were three levels of taxi services, each one had a different permit which granted different access to the city, and only one, the most expensive one, allowed access to the airport. This last one, the Ground Transportation Permit, was the highest cost one and gave holders the sole privilege to transport patrons to and from the airport.

In addition, the city–not the taxi companies–set the rate for the taxi companies. (Doesn’t this cease the companies from being a private company?) Apparently cities setting rates were normal but as I said earlier, I never cared for taxis prior to my experience.

The biggest confusion for me was the gas. Bigger vehicles usually have less mpg…how they could charge the same as a sedan? Why on earth they do such a thing? I just couldn’t wrap my head around.

What if, for example, I was by myself? Wouldn’t it be more efficient to send an economical car to pick me up?

Thankfully I met a few drivers who thumbed their nose at the regulations and charged me less than lawfully required. Who would have thought saving consumers money would be a crime!

Just think of all the people who could provide a taxi service but can’t enter because of the costly taxi permits. Or the money that could be saved for single passengers.

Regulations such as these limit the supply of drivers, holding all things equal, which increase the price of taxi fares. Less drivers, more costly. I don’t know why bureaucrats find it necessary to decide whether this or that vehicle is allowed to enter the airport.

Why do we consent to the power of giving us permission to start a business? Or saving money?

Bigger cities like New York, Jersey, Seattle, etc. suffer from the same problems (and solutions such as illegal taxi market!!) but on a bigger proportion and costs. Here is an interesting article on why NY’s taxi medallions now cost $1 million, though I think the author came to the wrong conclusion of interest rate calculations and totally ignores the fixed supply of medallions. Laurence Vance does a much better job explaining the problem of “taxi tyranny.”

Black markets arise from scenarios such as these. Black markets arise in a non-free market economy. In a free market, problems like this would not exist. I don’t know about you, reader, but I’d rather spend $15 on a ride than $22.

Two cheers for illegal taxi drivers. The world “illegal” has such a good ring to it.

On a sidenote, this video report from RT News is a whole other topic. The head of the Taxicab Commission says he is forcing new regulations of shiny lights and the such from word of the Mayor “to modernize taxis.” Why? Then at the end he says companies need to ask themselves why are people using another company (Uber) that is not subject to the regulations instead of them.

Does he not believe the market–that is, producers and consumers–will sort this non-problem out? Did typewriters and flip phones not become nearly obsolete without government help?

Does anyone see the problem in his statement? Does that make his commission irrelevant, since companies are thriving without his regulations?

Will he fire himself and propose to shut down the Taxicab Commission?

I invite you to join the conversation and subscribe to Minds Alike, e-mail me at then tweet me @BabAdetiba.


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