Sunday, November 7, 2010

Taxi insights and fun

3:56 PM

The newly resurrected Transport Blog has an interesting riff on taxis around the world. The post is an entertaining read, full of pithy observations (and quite a lot of speculation I suspect).

Yet it cleverly sneaks in some important points on the dry dry topic of taxi regulation. Which is great because improving taxi industry arrangements is an important but sadly neglected element of urban transport policy.

Hanoi's taxis feature prominently - hence the intriguing title "How to spook a Vietnamese taxi driver". You have to read to the end to understand the reference. There are brief comments on taxi service and its regulation all over the world. If author Michael Jennings is to be believed, taxis in Bulgaria and Buenos Aires are to be avoided if humanly possible.

Hanoi taxis in their natural habitat (a sea of motorcycles!)

Singapore's get a little nod too. Which reminds me that a few years ago I wrote something about Singapore's taxi arrangements. Singapore has 'deregulated' the taxi industry. But what does that mean?

First, there is now no cap on the number of taxis. And the numbers did indeed go up.
Second, there is no limit on the number of taxi companies (although complying with service standards means that tiny operators would have difficulty staying in the market).
Third, each taxi company can set fares to whatever the market will bear - provided they inform the government and the public in advance. Thus, deregulated fares does not mean unpredictable fares. The drivers must still use the tamper-proof meters. In practice, the differences among the companies are small and restricted mainly to the extras.
...
Most taxi drivers here rent their cab from one of the companies (at S$90 per day). The taxi companies are thus basically rental companies - with medium term rental agreements with the drivers of their fleet.
In this model, the drivers face an extremely competitive environment out on the streets. The companies are competing to keep drivers so that their taxi fleets are fully utilised.
Some of the details in my old post may be a little out of date but the basics remain accurate.

By the way, the Transport Blog is a libertarian take on transport policy from the UK but don't let the libertarian bit put you off checking them out even if that part of the political spectrum is not your thing.
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1 comments :

  1. Holy shit, another libertarian land use/transportation blog that's not an auto apologist?? Looks like we've got competition!

    Also, it's a bit disturbing (but totally unsurprising) that libertarian is such a dirty word in the industry. More than a few trends in urban planning – allowing density and allowing developers to not build massive parking lots, to give two examples – are fundamentally libertarian moves. We at Market Urbanism are trying to change that perception, but obviously we've got a ways to go... :-(

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