Alaska Taxi Driver Demands Thaw of City’s Freeze on Uber

Published February 10, 2016

Months after Anchorage, Alaska lawmakers forced Uber, a popular transportation network company that directly connects drivers and riders, to halt its operations in the city, a local taxi driver is working to overturn the city’s regulations and allow Uber to resume serving local consumers.

In March 2015, Uber suspended operations in Anchorage after spending several months attempting to negotiate with city lawmakers and regulators to reduce or remove rules requiring drivers to purchase expensive taxi license medallions or luxury chauffer licenses. Uber also unsuccessfully attempted to remove other costly regulations.

Dave O’Malley, a local taxicab driver, is backing a voter initiative that would overturn the regulations and allow Uber to begin serving local consumers again.

Cold War Against Bad Service

O’Malley says he has been fighting the taxicab status quo for nearly a decade.

“For the past eight years, I and a few others have been battling a corrupt, dysfunctional system in an effort to improve service,” O’Malley said. “The problem has always been a shortage of cabs on the road, especially at high peak times like rush hours, holidays, and especially [during] bar break.”

O’Malley says his city deserves better services and more options.

“We think the people of Anchorage deserve much more than the shoddy taxicab services they’ve become accustomed to,” said O’Malley. “Competition is the answer, and that’s what we’re going for. The overwhelming majority of the public wants Uber to return.”

Warming Up to New Ideas

Patrice Lee, outreach director for Generation Opportunity, a national nonprofit organization that promotes economic opportunity and prosperity for the younger generation, says lawmakers should warm up to the idea of using competition to encourage innovation.

“Wherever innovation bumps up against the status quo and entrenched interests, issues will arise,” Lee said. “Technology is disrupting traditional industries and forcing them to compete for our business in ways that they haven’t had to in the past. The successful industries will be those that adapt to change, rather than trying to throw roadblocks in the way of innovation.”

Everyone wins when lawmakers step out of the way and allow businesses to innovate, Lee says.

“Jobs in the sharing economy give enormous flexibility for people to earn extra money, either as a supplement to other work or full-time,” Lee said. “As consumers, the added competition spurs innovation. This brings lower prices and higher quality.”

Tony Corvo ([email protected]) writes from Beavercreek, Ohio.

Internet Info:

Damien Geradin, “Uber And The Rule Of Law: Should Spontaneous Liberalization Be Applauded Or Criticized,” Competition Policy International: