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131Taxi deregulation

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  • Eric Britton
    Dec 23, 2002
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      -----Original Message-----
      From: Footlickers@... [mailto:Footlickers@...]
      Monday, December 23, 2002 1:55 AM
      To: postmaster@...
      Subject: Taxis


      My name is Robert. I own a taxi in Canberra Australia. Our local government is trying to convince our taxi company that deregulation is good. We have yet to be persuaded. Do you have any information on deregulation with regards the Spanish experience especially in Madrid and Barcelona. I'm also interested in the shortcomings or good points relating to the taxi radio system and how it can be improved. Perhaps you could email me at your convenience? If I have contacted you by mistake and you cannot help me, could you possibly pass my request on to the relevant person with a CC to me? Thanks Robert



      Paris, Monday, December 23, 2002


      Dear Robert,


      The best I can do for you today is to forward your request for help to several groups with background in these matters.  Which I am doing with this note.


      Less usefully perhaps, I can also offer you the following brief comments based on some years of studying and working with taxi issues, always in a broader overall transport and community context.  And often with an eye to what we can do with better information and communications technology.


      • When you hear the word deregulation, you do well to reach for your evolver (sorry).  Not least because enough of the experience with deregulating transport over the last decade-plus has been extremely disappointing, for a variety of reasons.

      • As much as anything else, I would say that the problem resides in the fact that all too often the approach taken is simplistic, mechanistic, rhetoric-driven, and rushed. The results have largely born this out.

      • I have looked in taxi operations in a couple of dozen places over the years and on just about all of the continents, and I have to say that upon reflection one of the words that comes not at the top of my list is: flexibility.  Not that the taxis themselves are not flexible – and indeed this should be included in one of the underlying targets of anything we do to change their guiding framework, i.e., more and not less flexibility --; rather that the structures of ordinances and laws within which they perform their functions tend to be stodgy and unnecessarily constraining.

      • So, the goal has to be not to deregulate, but to improve, to create (and how I hate the expression) win-win situations in which the owners, drivers, their clients and the community all come out with big gains.  And indeed it is possible (though that has to be the topic of something a bit more substantial than this off the cuff reply).


      • The key to successful transportation policy is, has to be, deep analysis and dialogue.  Moreover, in the case of a public service function such as taxis, the entire process of dialogue needs to be inclusive, broad and probably slowish.  This can prove irritating for go-getting politicians and administrators looking to hold up the bull’s ears and tail, but hey we are looking at one of the older professions and in many cases the ordinances governing them stretch back a couple of centuries, including, ironically, in cities that have themselves not been around that long (as a result of copycat regulation in the first place).


      • You gotta know what you want as the bottom line.  To me it seems pretty simple: more taxis, more people in them, better wages for drivers, increased earnings for the industry, greater accessibility for all, higher priority in the traffic stream, better driver safety and working conditions, more versatility, greater flexibility, and a greater contribution to the community as a whole.


      • One real enemy to avoid is that of sub-optimization on any score.  This has been the bane of transport policy and practice in the past, sector by sector, and has almost invariably led to a situation of feeding further decline and future problems, usually at enhanced scale and impact.


      • One barrier we find in many places is that it is next too impossible to organist demonstration or pilot projects to test out and prove new approaches and principles.  SO, if one of the handmaidens of so-called ‘deregulation’ is that the new context will permit more and better trial projects, then someone is starting to do something right.


      • Finally, let me share an opinion with you as to what is quite possibly one of the worst ways of setting a new policy in this area:  And this is to hand the job over to some consultants (hey! I am a consultant) who then work with vigor, timeliness and gratifyingly under the whip of their public sector and political masters to come up with the answer package.  Oops.

      To conclude: You have to know what you want.  And process is all.


      Hope that helps.


      Eric Britton


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