Fighting (and writing) for consumers and innovation

Over the past week, I’ve been standing up for consumers against Transport for London’s absurd decision to revoke Uber’s private hire licence. At the ASI we will always oppose efforts to stifle innovation and protect incumbents from competition, that’s why I’ve been making the case in the media that Sadiq and TfL should reconsider their decision and restore Uber’s license.

In The Sun I debated Steve McNamara of the London Taxi Drivers’ Association, arguing that the Uber ban is bad news for consumers in London and will harm London’s reputation internationally.

“The reality is that if Uber can't operate in London, people will have to wait longer for cabs, pay much higher prices and some might even put their safety in jeopardy by choosing to walk home after a night out.”

In The Daily Telegraph I echoed Mises and argued that the market is the most responsive democracy of all.

“But, there is a better way to work out what voters really want: check their bank statements.  And if you check the monthly bank statement of the average Londoner, you’ll see with over a million trips each week that they’ve cast their sterling votes for Uber and not black cabs.

“And it’s easy to see why. Uber offers a substantially cheaper service, payment by card and shorter wait-times. TfL have censured Uber on the grounds of safety, in particular focusing on the reporting of sexual assaults. That’s a serious issue, but TfL should listen to the women who will always opt for an Uber late at night. Shorter waiting times mean that long walks in search of a main road to hail a cab are no longer necessary, and with every trip logged and tracked by GPS female passengers feel safer.”

And finally for The Times Red Box I argued that TfL’s Uber ban revealed who the real ‘Baptists’ and ‘Bootleggers’ were.

“The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) represents the modern-day equivalent of “Bootleggers”. Black cab drivers are opposed to Uber because it is a cheaper, more convenient competitor. Simply put, Uber means less work and lower earnings for black cab drivers. Visible and well-organised interest groups will always have sway over politicians, but any politician who supported banning Uber on the grounds that it would mean higher prices and reduced competition should be rightly pilloried.

“Instead, “Bootleggers” have to rely on “Baptists” to lower the political cost of giving in to naked self-interest. The LTDA are able to hide their financial self-interest behind a range of concerns from workers’ rights to public safety."

Check them out, though if you’re reading this blog I suspect you may already agree.