City should let the market decide taxi fares

I want to applaud the city commission for their unanimous decision to allow taxi cab operators in St. Augustine the option to establish their own method of calculating the fares they charge their customers.

The City doesn’t need to be in the taxi business and does not need to be making the business decisions for the entrepreneurs who are.

Checker Cab asked the city to look into metered payment because they felt that flat rates by zone could be “adjusted” by a driver to be higher than they should. The meter cost will be $1.50 when a customer enters the car, $1.50 per mile and a 35-cent idling charge. The trip costs the same no matter how many people are in the car.

Other taxi operators were concerned that the city might eliminate zone rates which allow drivers to collect a flat fee from each occupant of the cab based on the location where they are picked up and dropped off.

By allowing taxi operators the option to implement either rate plan, the city gives taxi cab customers the choice of which method they prefer and lets the marketplace decide which method of pricing is most popular.

Whether or not the newly approved metered method will be successful is of no consequence to the city … unless, of course, taxi cab operators are planning to return to the commission for bail out money if their chosen business method fails.

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