Surprise: The city’s efforts to rein in Uber, Lyft and other rideshare services are starting to recreate the old yellow-cab-medallion system — at the drivers’ expense.
And the effort to fix the problem is likely to bring more unintended consequences.
The issue popped up in recent testimony before the Taxi and Limousine Commission about plans to extend the freeze on new for-hire vehicles, first imposed last August.
It turns out that the cap has created (at least temporarily) a market where would-be new drivers have to pay for the right to work. Now, on top of getting the special driver’s license for this work and passing the TLC’s background checks and spending for a vehicle, you have to pay somebody who already owns a TLC for-hire certificate.
Talk at the City Council and TLC is that the solution is to set a legal limit on how much anyone can charge for that lease. But that’s just inviting illegal payoffs and other dodges: Price controls always breed black markets and corruption.
None of which stops the rush for more ill-considered regulation. The companies are still grappling with the arcane TLC rules that supposedly ensure that ride-share drivers earn at least $17.27 an hour, yet now the commission is looking at adding a new requirement that the vehicles spend no more than 31 percent of their time below 60th Street cruising without a passenger.
If the city wants to help taxi-medallion owners who’ve suffered from the technological progress that’s brought new competition, it could start buying back medallions, which are now running about $110,000 at auction, and retiring them to send prices back up.
Trying instead to use regulation to roll back time is only guaranteed to create a whole new host of troubles.
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