I had an interesting discussion with a local taxi driver (who, after waiting 3 weeks for a response from the mayor, asked the Council secretary for any elected official to call him, and I did.) He is concerned that while taxis are required to have Encinitas business licenses, annual inspections, and carry $1 million in liability insurance, Uber drivers are not licensed by the City and thus have no fees, and have only Uber's insurance requirements which are much less. He said the Uber ap showed 37 Uber cars in Encinitas last Friday and 42 on Saturday evening. I told him I would talk to the City Manager and staff, confirm what our policies and practices are, and then request that the City Council consider whether any changes are called for. In my view, we don't want to be choosing among competing business interests, and we don't want to discourage safe options for bar patrons who have enough sense not to drive while intoxicated, but we do want to ensure that we are being fair and looking out for public safety, not sanctioning unfair or unsafe business practices. So the first step is information collection and understanding, and then we can move to deliberation on whether anything needs to change.The taxi cartels have been trying this with cities all over the country, trying to remove their cleaner, cheaper, friendlier, more convenient competition. For the other side of the story on Uber, please see UCSD Economics Professor James Hamilton.
Oh, and Uber has $1.5 million liability insurance, by the way. Maybe those taxis should be forced to increase their coverage to match.