October 26, 2014

OPINION: KCMO should allow free market to work, allow ride-sharing

The Kansas City, Missouri, government dislikes poor people, free enterprise and the environment. At least that’s the idea someone might get from the city government’s recent decision to seek a restraining order to keep a ride-sharing service from operating in the community. Lyft isn’t really a taxicab service. It’s an app that matches passengers to drivers and suggests a donation amount for the service. It’s a little like virtual hitch-hiking.
It’s an application that could be used to get those without vehicles to and from work without prohibitive expense. It allows people headed in the same direction to add passengers to their car theoretically saving tons in carbon emissions.
Cab companies in Kansas City, Missouri, face rigorous regulations that require them to pass city screening and certifications in order to carry passengers. Cab companies are also required to pay licensing taxes. So we can see why cab drivers and cab company owners aren’t exactly thrilled with the new competition.
However, a wiser course for metropolitan city’s government may be to loosen it’s regulations on cab companies in the first place.
Yes, potential passengers want to know that they’re getting into a car with a safe driver. But all the regulations in the world can’t make that guarantee.
Kansas City officials should allow the free market to work. But to do that, they will need to relax regulations on cab companies.

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