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Why is the jitney illegal?

phattonez

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In New York City, the police bust jitney drivers all the time. Writing in the New York Times Magazine of August 10, 1997, John Tierney tells the story of an immigrant from Barbados who spent years trying to go the legal route and get a license to transport residents around the city in his van. His application included more than 900 supporting statements from riders, business groups, and church leaders. He was approved by the City Taxi and Limousine Commission and supported by Mayor Rudy Giuliani. But in the end, the city council did what it has done with almost every such request: it rejected his application. Now this outlaw entrepreneur and thousands just like him in the Big Apple dodge the cops every day as they earn a living and their customers’ approval.

A Tribute to the Jitney | The Freeman | Ideas On Liberty

Is there any reason for making jitneys illegal? What about requiring medallions or licenses for taxicabs? Why are most transit operations that could be run by private companies so heavily regulated that no business would even start? I'd like to hear the argument for this because I can only think of weak arguments like safety (which is easy to solve, only use the companies that you trust and prosecute those that are criminal).
 

tacomancer

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I always find it interesting when people dismiss safety as a weak argument.
 

RightinNYC

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There are all sorts of good reasons to license cabs. In NY, licensed cabs are required to follow a lengthy set of rules for passengers, including posting their pictures and names, accepting credit cards, charging a particular rate, etc. The gypsy cabs (our version of jitneys) rarely follow those rules and often act in shady ways. I had to take a gypsy cab every day during one school year and it wasn't very pleasant. I didn't have much of a problem because I'm a guy who knew the route I wanted to take and how much I would pay, but they would have had no problem screwing over a tourist or being extra sketch to a single female.
 

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It's weak because there is no discernible reason, as to why there is less safety, involved with these things.

Safety has been the fall back argument for a lot of moronic things.

Ahh, I thought he was referencing safety in general. I fail to see why small busses would be unsafe.
 

phattonez

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There are all sorts of good reasons to license cabs. In NY, licensed cabs are required to follow a lengthy set of rules for passengers, including posting their pictures and names, accepting credit cards, charging a particular rate, etc. The gypsy cabs (our version of jitneys) rarely follow those rules and often act in shady ways. I had to take a gypsy cab every day during one school year and it wasn't very pleasant. I didn't have much of a problem because I'm a guy who knew the route I wanted to take and how much I would pay, but they would have had no problem screwing over a tourist or being extra sketch to a single female.

If it was legal you would probably easily find a company that you trust and use their services.
 

Johnny

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I don't like the fact the governments don't allow taxis to compete. They all have to charge the same rates which is bull****. They should be able to charge whatever they want. Allow competition and bring prices down.

The reason (I guess) they're illegal is to stop competition.

There is some truth to the safety issue I'm not disputing that but I highly doubt the government gives a **** about us.
 

phattonez

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If safety was an issue with taxis then it would be as much if not moreso an issue with fast food. But the number of fast food restaurants is not outright limited the way it is with taxicabs.
 

RightinNYC

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If it was legal you would probably easily find a company that you trust and use their services.

The bulk of these guys aren't companies, they're just dudes driving around in their own cars. If you're walking around late at night in an area without many yellow cabs, you don't want to wait 20 minutes to call some cab company and wait for them to pick you up.

I don't like the fact the governments don't allow taxis to compete. They all have to charge the same rates which is bull****. They should be able to charge whatever they want. Allow competition and bring prices down.

I don't have a problem with this, but there are still good reasons to have some licensing procedures for cab drivers. It ensures that the drivers are qualified to be shuttling passengers around all day, that they're not rapists/robbers, that they're accountable to someone, that they don't try to cheat you, etc.
 

phattonez

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The bulk of these guys aren't companies, they're just dudes driving around in their own cars. If you're walking around late at night in an area without many yellow cabs, you don't want to wait 20 minutes to call some cab company and wait for them to pick you up.

I know that they aren't companies, but that's because they're illegal. If the service was legal you'd see companies get in on the game and then you could search out a tax from a company that you trust.

I don't have a problem with this, but there are still good reasons to have some licensing procedures for cab drivers. It ensures that the drivers are qualified to be shuttling passengers around all day,

Isn't that what a driver's license is for?

that they're not rapists/robbers, that they're accountable to someone, that they don't try to cheat you, etc.

Maybe to an extent you're right, though I still say the licensing is unnecessary since you could just use the companies that you trust. Either way, there is no justification for limiting the number of medallions like the city has and not granting petitions for jitney service and other services.
 

RightinNYC

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I know that they aren't companies, but that's because they're illegal. If the service was legal you'd see companies get in on the game and then you could search out a tax from a company that you trust.


I just think that would be difficult in practice - it's not like other businesses where you're free to choose between two or three alternatives. If you need a cab, there's often only one choice.

Isn't that what a driver's license is for?

In NY, you have to get a chauffer's license. It's a middle ground between a regular license and a CDL.

Maybe to an extent you're right, though I still say the licensing is unnecessary since you could just use the companies that you trust. Either way, there is no justification for limiting the number of medallions like the city has and not granting petitions for jitney service and other services.

Oh, don't get me wrong, the medallion system is a total ****ing scam. It's something like $600k for a company to buy a medallion. I just think there are some benefits to having a relatively user-friendly system, especially given that the city economy relies so heavily on making tourists feel comfortable.
 

phattonez

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I just think that would be difficult in practice - it's not like other businesses where you're free to choose between two or three alternatives. If you need a cab, there's often only one choice.

That's just what you're used to now because of the medallion procedure. You would probably have companies roaming the streets looking for business without a medallion system.

Oh, don't get me wrong, the medallion system is a total ****ing scam. It's something like $600k for a company to buy a medallion. I just think there are some benefits to having a relatively user-friendly system, especially given that the city economy relies so heavily on making tourists feel comfortable.

I guess I just haven't seen any evidence as to why that comfort can only be acheived through heavy government regulation.
 

RightinNYC

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That's just what you're used to now because of the medallion procedure. You would probably have companies roaming the streets looking for business without a medallion system.

I guess I just haven't seen any evidence as to why that comfort can only be acheived through heavy government regulation.

I think I was looking at this the wrong way. I like the idea of having cabs out there that follow a basic set of rules, though I also like the convenience of the black cars. I just didn't want to see the yellow cab system be eliminated (mostly because I ****ing love the fact that I can pay with my little tapper), but there's no reason that that would actually happen in the scenario you're envisioning.

I wouldn't have a problem with a world where cabs could go through a voluntary vetting process with the state that would earn them some sort of special badge, but other cabs that didn't want to go through the process could still operate legally, just without the official city approval. Come to think of it, that's pretty much how things work now. :lol:
 

phattonez

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I think I was looking at this the wrong way. I like the idea of having cabs out there that follow a basic set of rules, though I also like the convenience of the black cars. I just didn't want to see the yellow cab system be eliminated (mostly because I ****ing love the fact that I can pay with my little tapper), but there's no reason that that would actually happen in the scenario you're envisioning.

I wouldn't have a problem with a world where cabs could go through a voluntary vetting process with the state that would earn them some sort of special badge, but other cabs that didn't want to go through the process could still operate legally, just without the official city approval. Come to think of it, that's pretty much how things work now. :lol:

But good luck every trying to get that city to get rid of a big money maker (at least I would assume it to be a big money maker).
 

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I dont see a problem with private companies doing prebooked rides that are not regulated as taxis. Provided they do a regular safety inspection.

I did come to a realization though recently

Bus services do not have to be provided by the government, local or otherwise

In China the bus service is private and has multiple competitors on the same routes (routes are standardized, along with bus stops). There was plenty of bus's to transport the mass's of people wanting to take the bus from one location to another. They were clean, seemed safe, airconditioned (some more effective then others) and quite efficient in getting people around for a reasonable price (2.5 yuan in some areas or about 0.40 USD)
 

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Bus services do not have to be provided by the government, local or otherwise

In China the bus service is private and has multiple competitors on the same routes (routes are standardized, along with bus stops). There was plenty of bus's to transport the mass's of people wanting to take the bus from one location to another. They were clean, seemed safe, airconditioned (some more effective then others) and quite efficient in getting people around for a reasonable price (2.5 yuan in some areas or about 0.40 USD)

The best bus travel services out there are the chinatown bus lines. You can go back and forth between DC/NYC/Boston on an air conditioned bus with free wifi for 25 bucks.
 

phattonez

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I dont see a problem with private companies doing prebooked rides that are not regulated as taxis. Provided they do a regular safety inspection.

What about rides that aren't pre-booked? What if you're out one night and you want to call a taxi? Should those be regulated? Don't people even at that time have a choice as to the company they use?

In China the bus service is private and has multiple competitors on the same routes (routes are standardized, along with bus stops). There was plenty of bus's to transport the mass's of people wanting to take the bus from one location to another. They were clean, seemed safe, airconditioned (some more effective then others) and quite efficient in getting people around for a reasonable price (2.5 yuan in some areas or about 0.40 USD)

I've heard the idea thrown around that we should seel curb rights so that private companies can also transport people. I don't see why we shouldn't do that.
 

Lord Tammerlain

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What about rides that aren't pre-booked? What if you're out one night and you want to call a taxi? Should those be regulated? Don't people even at that time have a choice as to the company they use?
General safety. A pre booked ride will allow the passenger to check out the record of the company, a drive by pick up will not. A taxi company having to registar and being regulated with drivers being licensed will have the safety of the company, and the drivers checked before hand by the regulators allowing the customer to be far more secure.
I've heard the idea thrown around that we should seel curb rights so that private companies can also transport people. I don't see why we shouldn't do that.

I wouldnt sell curb rights, just regulate the safety and customer service standards of the bus's. Allowing any to sign up to drive pre set routes with pricing set by the company, but visable to the customer before they board the bus.
 

phattonez

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General safety. A pre booked ride will allow the passenger to check out the record of the company, a drive by pick up will not. A taxi company having to registar and being regulated with drivers being licensed will have the safety of the company, and the drivers checked before hand by the regulators allowing the customer to be far more secure.

Don't taxis have the company name on the side of their car? If you don't want that taxicab, then tell the driver to move on until you find a company that you trust (or call some company to pick you up if you get depserate enough for a ride).

I wouldnt sell curb rights, just regulate the safety and customer service standards of the bus's. Allowing any to sign up to drive pre set routes with pricing set by the company, but visable to the customer before they board the bus.

Again, why so much emphasis on safety? Consumers regulate this themselves plenty well, they will stop going to companies that aren't safe. This is why companies are so emphatic on making their products safe. Ever heard of UL? Might want to look that one up.
 

Lord Tammerlain

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Don't taxis have the company name on the side of their car? If you don't want that taxicab, then tell the driver to move on until you find a company that you trust (or call some company to pick you up if you get depserate enough for a ride).



Again, why so much emphasis on safety? Consumers regulate this themselves plenty well, they will stop going to companies that aren't safe. This is why companies are so emphatic on making their products safe. Ever heard of UL? Might want to look that one up.

In established markets established companies will focus on safety. There will be certain markets and certain companies that will not. They will take short cuts and focus on price and short term profitability. Some lives can and most likely will be lost as a result in the time it takes for those companies to be driven from the market. Remember that markets do take time to work things out, and in that time bad things can and do happen.

That is the reason for the focus on safety, the market will not always weed out the unsafe companies before they can do harm to people
 

phattonez

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That is the reason for the focus on safety, the market will not always weed out the unsafe companies before they can do harm to people

The government doesn't do this either, by the way. In fact, with government regulating this safety, people get a reasonable expectation of safety from every company and so will not hold companies as accountable as they would without that regulation.
 

tacomancer

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The government doesn't do this either, by the way. In fact, with government regulating this safety, people get a reasonable expectation of safety from every company and so will not hold companies as accountable as they would without that regulation.

I am pretty sure I am just as likely to sue a company whether or not regulations exist.
 

phattonez

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I am pretty sure I am just as likely to sue a company whether or not regulations exist.

But would you have more or less of an expectation of safety without regulation? And so would you be more or less demanding of safety assurances?
 

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But would you have more or less of an expectation of safety without regulation? And so would you be more or less demanding of safety assurances?

Misunderstood your point, sorry.

Honestly, I don't know, as it depends on so many factors in this hypothetical environment. I think generally it would mostly depend on the reputation of the industry as a whole.
 

MaggieD

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A Tribute to the Jitney | The Freeman | Ideas On Liberty

Is there any reason for making jitneys illegal? What about requiring medallions or licenses for taxicabs? Why are most transit operations that could be run by private companies so heavily regulated that no business would even start? I'd like to hear the argument for this because I can only think of weak arguments like safety (which is easy to solve, only use the companies that you trust and prosecute those that are criminal).

Suburban Chicago's taxi cab business isn't regulated except on a town level. Some towns require taxis and their operators be licensed. Some don't. For those that do, they strictly enforce the licensing requirements and even set up stings to catch those who violate their ordinances. Here's why regulation is needed, at least in suburban Chicago:

Some taxi cab companies operate completely shady. Here's the way one operates that I have personal knowledge of and that has 70-80 cabs on the street in suburban Chicago. This company hires anyone with a pulse and promises them $500-$700 a week in their pockets for 12-hour days 6/7 days a week. They have more applicants than taxi cabs. They charge drivers $80/day to lease their cabs and their dispatch service feeds them rides. They pay for their own gas. Their cabs are supposed to be insured, of course,but when a driver is stopped for a traffic violation, he finds out he doesn't have any insurance. He's ticketed for the original offense, plus another for driving without insurance. That last violation costs him $1,000.

The company isn't interested in customer service, they're interested in the $80/day the driver pays. Drivers have to cheat the customers to pay their leases, buy gas, and make a few bucks to live on.

The company is in cahoots with the insurance company and switches insurance on cabs at will -- never having all of the cabs insured. It's the luck of the draw as to whether or not a particular cab is insured on a particular day. Call the insurance company to find out if your particular cab is insured by VIN number? They won't give the driver any information. "Call the company to find that out." And, of course, the company always says they are.

The cabs this company puts on the road are unsafe. It's not unusual for a front wheel will fall off. Quite often the driver's seat is not fastened...they don't pass emissions...holes in the roof or floor. Drivers are often ticketed for not having a valid emissions sticker that matches the VIN, and the cars are towed. The driver gets stuck paying the tow and the ticket. The way the laws are written in Illinois, it's the driver who takes the hit, not the owner of the car.

Felons are rampant in many cab companies that aren't regulated. Nothing wrong with that. Christ, they have to work someplace. But if a felon won't pay for the tow on an emissions violation, the cab company will threaten to violate him with his probation officer. So he pays. It's usually around $300.

Find out as a driver after a week you're working for nothing -- which is what happens the majority of the time? The contract the company has you sign says you have to give two weeks' notice, so they extort another $1000 out of the poor souls who sign up.

The company regularly dispatches the taxis into areas where they aren't licensed. The unsuspecting driver goes to pick up a fare, and, if he's unlucky, gets a $100 ticket for violating local licensing laws. These guys have no idea what they are getting themselves into when they join this particular company. And, of course, this is just one company.

The company pays all of its in-office personnel on 1099's; works them 12 hours a day; pays in cash. One has to wonder how they can stay in business. If the state of Illinois had taxi cab rules and regs, these horrible companies who exploit the least of us couldn't exist.

I know all this because my S.O. is an independent who owns his own cab and used their dispatching service for eight years. He'd try to warn the drivers, but who'd believe these stories? As true as they are. When he told them he was leaving, they tried to extort money from him threatening to call the DMV and have his license revoked unless he continued paying his $200 weekly dispatch fee. When that didn't work, he told him that the county was going to make all independents pay a $75,000 licensing fee. When that didn't work....well, we'll just have to see.

Taxi cabs transporting your teen-aged daughters and sons....your senior moms....absolutely should be regulated. The City of Chicago sells Medallions. Even at that, they have problems; but not as egregious as the suburbs.
 
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