by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Those of you have followed with interest this forum’s occasional discussion of the ills associated with taxicab regulations, across the nation and in North Carolina, might find interest — along with amusement — in Joel Stein‘s latest installment of “The Awesome Column” for TIME. Stein documents his shift as a driver for the unregulated Lyft ride-sharing company in Los Angeles.
When I dropped people off, I didn’t take their fare–about 20% less than what a taxi would charge–since they used their app to make a “donation,” which has to do with the fact that I wasn’t driving a “taxi,” which has to be “licensed.” After every ride, the customer and I rated each other from one to five stars, each knowing that both bad drivers and bad riders get booted. …
… At 1 a.m., a picture popped up on my phone of Nikki, who was wearing a particularly short dress. When I asked Nikki why she would submit a sexy photo to a cab company, which I thought was a pretty sketchy question for a driver to ask, she told me that Lyft uses people’s Facebook photos. Despite my sketchiness, Nikki told me she rides with Lyft precisely because of the drivers’ lack of sketchiness. Even though taxi drivers are licensed by the city, she vastly preferred Lyft drivers, who have Facebook accounts and smartphones and are aware of new tech companies like Lyft.