Friday, August 1, 2014

Wait, cable companies are NOT common carriers, but ride-share is??

Maryland should not classify Uber and Lyftt and other ride-share businesses as common carriers. I mean, how messed up is it that the companies that provide the pipeline to the internet are NOT common carriers (Comcast, AT&T, Verizon)? But telecoms are (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile)? Yet, in the interest of "protecting us", the Public Service Commission wants to over-regulate ride-shares such as Uber.

Ride share is not a common carrier; our helpful government should not squelch consumer choice in Maryland by erroneous re-classisfying businesses such as Uber or Lyft. Uber and its competition provide flexibility: drivers have complete control over their businesses and schedules. The PSC’s proposed order would mean that Uber’s partner drivers can no longer own and operate independent companies; it would eliminate opportunities for residents to start their own businesses, make a living, and contribute to the economy.

Over-regulating would lessen low-cost options for low-income people who need to get to one place or another without a car. And the government's heavy hand isn't needed — the marketplace is the best regulator, in this case. Uber lets riders and drivers rate each other. Demand pricing means MORE available transportation, particularly when it is needed most — try getting a taxi last winter during that storm, or on New Years Eve, when so many people are drink-driving!

Shouldn't our government be looking to increase supply of alternative transportation, not decrease it? Fewer people owning fewer cars means transportation infrastructure costs go down. Pollution goes down. Congestion on our roads goes down. But not if you squelch new businesses.


How does Uber work? A customer requests a car using a smartphone app -- Uber sends its closest driver to their location, using the phone’s GPS. The fare is charged directly to your credit card. Uber provides five types of services: UberX, the cheapest option which allows for the hiring of livery car drivers with a smartphone; Uber Taxi, which lets you e-hail a yellow cab; Uber Black, a private hire car; Uber SUV, the car seats up to six people and Uber Lux, which features the priciest cars. UberX drivers are not licensed chauffeurs and they use their own cars. They also use their personal auto insurance policy while driving for Uber. According to the company website, all ride-sharing and livery drivers are thoroughly screened and the company conducts ongoing reviews of drivers’ motor vehicle records throughout their time with Uber.

While taxi operators may spend more than $1 million for a medallion to operate in some cities, Uber drivers don’t. At least six cities (Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Ann Arbor, Michigan; San Antonio and Austin, Texas; and Miami) as well as the state of Virginia have banned ride-sharing companies. Another seven cities and three states (California, Connecticut and Pennsylvania) are trying to regulate them. So let's see - government monopolies to keep prices high and provide crappy taxi service? Or freedom of choice?

You decide. Before the government does for you.

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