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Just received a note from Councilmember Jack Evans Chief of Staff that Evans is "introducing an amendment that would have no minimum for Uber."
1 year, 5 months ago on Strike Down the Minimum Fare Language in the DC Uber Amendment
1 year, 5 months ago on Uber CEO’s Letter To DC City Council
DC policymakers should strive for open, transparent, competitive and non-discriminatory markets. In exchange, DC should expect openness and accountability from its licensees and economic participants.
Unfortunately, the proposed amendment to the taxi modernization bill you are considering tomorrow will result in more discrimination and less competition, perpetuating a sector of our economy that has rampant and persistent issues with accountability.
I LIVE IN / WORK IN / OWN A BUSINESS IN the District of Columbia. As you are all aware, our taxi system is in dire need of modernization. That is the point of this legislation before you.
I share your concerns with DC's taxi fleet. Because taxi drivers in DC willfully ignore fee structures, I am regularly charged in error for stops, additional passengers, luggage or gas premiums, even when such fees are not in effect. Furthermore, I am subject to heavily polluting automobiles that are maintained at a standard far below what our environmental expectations for a "modern fleet" should be.
You have proposed some solutions to these problems, such as use of GPS and credit cards. I applaud these efforts to promote greater accountability and oversight to the taxi system.
Recently, however, the transportation committee proposed "minimum fare" language in section 8c of the Taxi Improvement Bill that runs in the opposite direction, and makes current problems worse.
There is zero public interest for mandating a price floor for sedan and competitive alternatives to taxi service. This regulation will destroy an otherwise functioning marketplace to unfairly and unreasonably benefit a single, small group of people: taxi drivers. In particular, efforts to mandate sedan service at a starting basis of 5 times (!!!) the taxi rate smack of the hubris one could only expect from a coddled and monopoly special interest group. One company, Uber, has already acknowledged such a restriction would prevent them from bringing environmentally-improving hybrid sedan service to DC -- a service they recently introduced in other markets.
Given that services like Uber -- the clear target of this action -- have become popular in DC because of their improved service, I would expect a large and vocal backlash to any actions taken to limit competition in the market. Furthermore, because DC is a prominent American city, and because these services exist in other cities, it is fair to say that your actions will be noted and subject to some national and international commentary, critique and scrutiny. Why does Washington, DC, in the middle of an economic recovery, want to signal anticompetitive and special-interest protectionism to future potential employers who may wish to locate here?
I urge you to reconsider this amendment and actions to limit competition in an economic sector you rightly know is in woeful need of updating.