Sunday, November 28, 2010

NYC cabbies get a little TLC on dress code: a free market would get better results

New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) is proposing a new dress code for Gotham cabbies, to be enforced with penalties.  The historical background is described in a NYT piece.  Note the following taxi drivers' comments:
Zack Doganay, a cabby for 32 years, drives his fares around the city in an orange Ralph Lauren wool sweater, a blue checked scarf and a pair of cap-toe oxford shoes.
“I respect myself, and I get more respect,” he said the other day, filling up his cab at a gasoline station on 10th Avenue. Or, as Jimmy Hyacinthe, a cabby in a plain white T-shirt, put it: “A suit and tie is unnecessary, but comfortable and clean is important.”...
Dido Goze, a driver from Ivory Coast, said he took umbrage at the suggestion that cabbies may need a makeover.
“‘Professional’? We do that already,” Mr. Goze said, standing by his Crown Victoria in faded jeans and a black fleece sweater. “I don’t know why they need to change it.”
If New York had a true free market in cabs, without the ubiquitous heavy-handed regulation one finds in everything there, the market would undoubtedly encourage most cabbies to get their acts together, not only in dress but in the cleanliness of their cars.  But it would allow the free-spirit, nonconformist driver a chance to do his thing and compete too.

Besides this, the authoritarian Mayor Bloomberg -- already a food nazi and so much else -- is intent on regimenting the 49,000-person industry further with the Taxi of Tomorrow scheme (about which I will comment later).  In the process, he continues a decades-long licensing and regulatory regime (just like rent control) which makes the cost of transportation high, especially for New Yorkers of modest means.

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