Licensure laws don’t work: D.C. taxi drivers edition

Licensure requirements supposedly protect consumers from dangerous or unqualified service providers. Ensuring a certain baseline of safety and quality is supposed to be worth the higher cost and lower quality that results from limiting competition via barriers to entry. Except it’s not. Jezebel reports: D.C. Cab Commissioner Says Cabbies Have Been ‘Manhandling’ Passengers.

As Reason has reported, the supply of cabs is limited in D.C. by a licensing exam for drivers that’s been closed since 2010. Wouldn’t you think one thing any test would want to establish is whether the applicant is likely to assault passengers? Fail.

There’s one thing I’m wondering though. The person bringing these assaults to light is D.C. Cab Commissioner Ron Linton. This is the guy who pushed for a medallion system for D.C. cabs, like the one that has pushed up prices and handed control of the industry to one company in New York. He pushed for it after meeting privately with taxi magnate Jerry Schaeffer, who literally hired the lobbyist who wrote the last medallion bill. (Source)

Is it possible he’s trying to gin up support to further barriers to entry to the marketplace by scaring people about being assaulted in cabs? It would make sense. People tolerate licensure requirements due to fear.

Even still, if so, I’d have to ask him: If the tests didn’t work to keep passengers safe, why would the medallions?

Photo by Digital Sextant

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