A recent letter in the CDT titled “Look up taxi definition” argued that Uber is an “illegal gypsy taxi company” that “wants to cripple the taxi industry.” Aside from the insensitivity to Roma culture, this opinion is inaccurate on many levels.
Laws are written by legislators and examined by courts. The Pennsylvania legislature has approved ride-sharing, and unless the courts can object to this on a constitutional basis, it will remain the law. On a broader scale, laws adapt to technological and cultural developments, thus the argument that “something is illegal” could demonstrate legislative lag rather than a socially harmful practice.
Regulations are in place to shield consumers from perceived shortcomings of a free market, but often offer legislators perks at the cost of promoting inefficiency. Taxi regulations that have remained largely unchanged since the 1940s created a monopoly that generated jobs and won votes but stagnated the efficiency of the service. The time lost waiting for a taxi and greater price incurred due to regulatory burden has adversely affected all members of society.
When Uber created its niche it maximized the efficiency of its service. It did not aim to “cripple the taxi industry,” but rather, to provide consumers with a revolutionary way to save time and money. It benefited most at the expense of a few. And the taxi drivers currently out of business have only their legislators to blame, not for approving Uber, but for imposing decades of stifling regulations onto the industry.
Adam Barsouk, State College