Mayor Nenshi to Slay Taxi Cartel?

Blog, Municipal Government, David Seymour

Mayor Nenshi of Calgary has called for the city to “take a look at the way the [taxi] industry is structured.” Aldermen will vote on the Mayor’s motion to do so today.

I appeared on the Calgary Eyeopener this morning to discuss the Mayor’s motion, and audio of the interview is here. (7 minutes)

As the Frontier Centre has argued in not one but two policy papers and numerous op-eds and media interviews over the past two years, the idea of a government trying to set the price and quantity of a service supplied to market is something that belongs in the Dark Ages.

Smart cities should heed the observation of the OECD that:

Increasing numbers of OECD countries have removed or loosened supply restrictions on taxis. The results of these reforms have been strongly positive, with reduced waiting times, increased consumer satisfaction and, in many cases, falling prices being observed.

They should consider what Phillip Morrison of New Zealand’s Victoria University has said when reflecting on taxi deregulation in his home city:

… deregulation (the removal of quantity and price controls) with appropriate (re)introduction of quality standards can bring about a restructuring of the industry in a way that benefits both consumers and suppliers alike. Far from being an industry apart, ungovernable without stringent regulation, the removal of entry and fare restrictions has released forces which have led to a new and considerably more vibrant local taxi industry.

Let us hope that Mayor Nenshi will stand up to the vested interests who have had it too good for too long, renting out Calgary’s 1,411 taxi plates for $200 per week each as the beneficiaries of an arbitrary government privilege awarded at the expense of passengers and would-be drivers.