Friday 24 March 2017

Why we should still hail taxi drivers – the legit ones

Fare play: Cabbies now want rigorous police checks
Fare play: Cabbies now want rigorous police checks
Takeoff: For blankets?

There was a time when getting a taxi was a bit like winning the urban Lotto. There were too few of them and too many of us, and that was the way the industry liked it.

A completely artificial and profoundly unfair regulatory process meant that the price of a taxi plate ran to about a hundred grand and it was seen by many drivers as a veritable licence to print money. In a country which was still held in a sort of MMA death grip by the unions and vested interests, taxis were simply another example of a privileged minority who thought the world, or more accurately, the rest of us, owed them a living. So it was no surprise that, in the run-up to deregulation in 2000, there was a caustic fault line between professional taxi drivers and passengers.

Cosseted by the fact that they were members of a closed shop, the taxi industry was appalled and furious, but mostly furious, that the market was about to open up and introduce them to the cold, hard glare of competition.

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