Lyft and Uber offer market solutions to our DWI problem

Lyft and Uber are disruptive technologies (apps that let you hail a ride/cab) that threaten the entrenched taxi cartels in many cities, including Dallas. Here is how the taxi game used to work, taxi companies lobbied local government and begged to be regulated and for “consumer protection” laws. But why would an industry want to be regulated? Simple. To decrease competition. It’s not uncommon for cities to limit the number of cabs, or pass laws that create such high barriers to entry that new cab companies can’t form. Taxi companies love these kinds of laws. Economists call this “rent seeking” behavior, where companies win profits through political lobbying instead of by providing a better product. It’s also the difference between free markets and corporatism.

Taxi companies have long lobbied (ie legally bribed) their local pols to decrease competition and nobody complained much until Uber and Lyft came along. In Dallas the city tried to diligently obey their taxi masters and sent the police to arrest Uber cab drivers (Dallas is a real life version of The Wire). You know you’ve hired the right lobbyists or given the right donations when you can get the police to arrest your business competition.

I thought this was a DWI article?

Dallas and the greater Metroplex are monuments to terrible design from a traffic safety standpoint. It’s impossible to walk to a shop, restaurant, or bar in the suburbs, and in most of Dallas as well. Politicians made it this way, and it’s one reason we have some many DWI arrests. Because our pols made it impossible to get to a bar without driving, which is why every bar in the suburbs has a huge parking lot.

What kind of idiot zones a city like this? Is there a Sprawl Design seminar somewhere? Since we can’t go back Sim City style and fix our awful zoning and transportation decisions we could at least embrace technologies that make it easier to get a cab in lieu of driving after drinking (which, if you are not intoxicated is still legal despite what DPS billboards say).

We should approach Uber and Lyft, as potentially life saving technologies and market solutions to our DWI problem. Instead of continuing to increase penalties for DWI and erode what little (if any) constitutional protections we have left, cities should instead work to make it easier for Uber and Lyft to set up in their community. If we can make it easier to not drive to where you are drinking, more people will choose to let a sober Uber or Lift driver take them to Chili’s or The Loon.





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