A sub headline in today’s National Post says: “Montréal cabbies declare open season on the ride-sharing service.” Of course they’re talking about UBER, the app driven ridesharing service which is proving more than a little disruptive to the taxi industry.
How it works is that you download the UBER app, and then just use your smart phone to call for a ride to the airport, or wherever. UBER drivers use their own cars and don’t bother to get a permit to drive them, so they can drive for less.
And a lot of the UBER drivers just drive part time, so they can pick a busy Friday or Saturday night, or during some sort of festival to get out and make a few extra bucks. It’s good for them, and it’s good for the taxi-using public.
So why are the drivers so angry? Well that permit that they require costs them well over $100,000. In fact in some Canadian cities it’s now approaching $200,000, and I’ve read that in New York it’s nearly $1 million.
So in addition to paying $50-$60,000 for their cars, licensed taxi drivers in Canada have to pay two or three times as much just to get the license to drive those cars. Why?
Simply because, city governments can get away with this racket to raise more money from companies or individuals that, by themselves, don’t have the muscle to fight back.
Here’s the definition of the word racket. “A racket is a service that is fraudulently offered to solve a problem.”
What problem does a six-figure taxi permit solve that a simple car safety check; driver’s test; and criminal background test for about 1000 bucks wouldn’t solve? Not one thing.
In fact, it creates more problems because you have know-it-all bureaucrats at City Hall pretending to know how many taxis a city needs when there is ample proof that they don’t. Heck, even common sense tells you they don’t.
This is SUPPLY MANAGEMENT, but it has nothing to do with management and everything to do with a government cash grab.
Our dairy and poultry industries run under exactly the same kind of racket run by provincial and the federal governments. Did you know that a farmer who wants to go into the dairy business must fork out over $30,000 per cow just to get a permit to milk that cow?
A small, one hundred cow dairy, costs over $3 million just to get the permits to milk the cows. Then you have to buy the cows, machinery, feed, have access to land etc., before you extract one litre of milk that you can legally sell.
I’ve always referred to the dairy and poultry supply management rackets as a case of industry robbing Canadian families while government holds the gun. Except the government has the gun on both families and farmers and taxi drivers.
So Montréal cabbies have a right to be angry, but they are angry at the wrong people. Their plight is not the fault of UBER and its drivers. It’s the politicians and bureaucrats that deserve the opprobrium.
And frankly, you and me for putting up with this racket.