Responding to a crackdown on sharing-economy alternatives to taxicab company monopolies in San Antonio, a Texas lawmaker is proposing standardizing the state’s transportation regulations, in order to encourage competition and innovation in the state.
State Rep. Chris Paddie (R-Marshall) introduced House Bill 2440, in response to San Antonio elected officials’ ongoing fight against ride-sharing companies such as Lyft and Uber. Also referred to as transportation network companies (TNCs), Lyft and Uber have been negotiating with city officials over proposed new regulations including adding drivers to the city’s criminal fingerprint database.
Also, drivers will be required to obtain special permits to use city streets to transport customers. Responding to the new regulations, Lyft and Uber both announced they plan to cease operations within city limits.
‘Texas’ Core Values’
Texas Public Policy Foundation Center for Local Governance Director James Quintero says San Antonio regulators are not acting with Texan values in mind.
“In a lot of different places, you’re seeing these kind of onerous ride-sharing restrictions being enacted, that are, a lot of times, antithetical to Texas’ core values of free markets and limited government,” Quintero said. “So, we have seen kind of an up-swell of interest begin to emerge at the Capitol, in pushing back against some of these very restrictive local ordinances, these kind of nanny-state ordinances.”
“I think it’s a very interesting issue, because it has wisps of consumer choice as well as breaking down the taxi-cab monopolies with this new and exciting technology,” Quintero said.
More Choices for Consumers
Quintero says San Antonio’s fight against Uber has exposed an important economic issue in the state.
“In Texas, at the local level, the introduction of TNCs like Uber and Lyft have really exposed a government protected cartel. By bringing uniformity to the system, we’re allowing businesses to come in and enjoy a very good business climate, but it also brings a measure of liberty to consumers, because they’re able to enjoy more options and have more freedom,” he said.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Chris Paddie, says his bill will promote consumer choice in Texas.
“I am a frequent user of Uber and saw the difficulties presented by the patchwork of regulations that were and continue to be adopted across the state,” Paddie told the Heartland Institute, which publishes Budget & Tax News. “I hope that by providing a set of reasonable, statewide regulations, we will see the consumer decide how the market should develop.”
Paddie says empowering consumers to make decisions for themselves will improve the quality of service for everyone.
“A free market solution is the only answer. This solution will increase consumer choice and promote competition in an industry that has not seen either in quite some time,” he said. “I think we can see by the rapid growth and popularity of TNCs that they are what consumers are demanding.”
“By allowing all companies to innovate and adapt within reasonable regulations, TNCs will be able to operate on a market driven model,” Paddie said.
Amelia Hamilton ([email protected]) writes from Traverse City, MI.
“Is Ridesharing Safe?,” Matthew Feeney, Cato Institute, https://heartland.org/policy-documents/ridesharing-safe/