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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Taxi!

It's hard not to sympathize with cab drivers lamenting over the cost of making a living. Hard, but not impossible. And the proposal to jack up the cost of sitting down in Boston cab and doubling the per mile rate makes for an easy target.

Boston cabs are already among the most expensive in the country and the gouging that takes place when you get in a cab at Logan Airport is infuriating -- with the cost of $9.75 for just opening the door.

And when the cost of getting to Logan from Brookline at 5 a.m. is about the same as getting from the Upper West Side of Manhattan to La Guardia in heavy afternoon rush hour traffic you really have to question whether another fare increase will convince people to find alternative means to get around town.

But what's most intriguing about today's Globe story is the unexplained mention of how it costs $77 a day to lease a medallion. That's $539 a week. Or $28,028 a year.

From each driver on every shift? If that's the case, double or maybe triple those numbers going to the medallion owners.

Where does that money go? That's certainly more than the cost of a Crown Victoria, one that stays on the road for more than a year. So it can't be the replacement cost of the vehicle to the fleet owner -- who (hopefully) buys in bulk and at a discount.

And what about that Massport pool fee? Who gets that money and what is it used for?

Drivers are far from perfect -- I feel a greater risk getting into a cab than any other form of transportation. But it is certainly obvious they are on the short end of the cost equation here.

Any increase should come with a full public accounting of where the money goes between the time you fork it over up until it reaches the medallion owner -- and what they owners do with it. If cabbies aren't seeing enough of it to make a living, the public has a right to know where the money we are spending on this government-regulated service actually goes.

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8 Comments:

Blogger DAVE SINGLETON said...

Yes, you are a typical liberal. The cost icnrease affects you so are are insisting on a full explanation for the increase and even an accounting of the funds already being collected and spent.

If this did not hit your wallet, you would be mocking the meanness and downright uncharitable nature of those opposing the increase. You'd be citing the poor drivers, the great use of the money already collected to fund other programs, and decrying any attempt by anyone else to inflict even the most minute amount of accountability into this situation.

Being a true liberal must be tough. It's hard to be consistently inconsistent while keeping a straight face and believing your own rhetoric.

June 02, 2008 2:35 PM  
Blogger rehajm said...

Isn't 'Outraged Liberal' an oxymoron???

June 02, 2008 2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The answer is clear: Boston needs more medallions. No accounting is necessary - the medallion owners can charge so much because we have decided to limit the number of medallions given out seemingly to create "a fair wage" for the taxi drivers. As you point out, the wage goes to the medallion owners and it is not fair at all. More medalions means more taxis means better response times, lower prices, and a better market for alternate means of transportation within the city. Furthermore, we'll have the opportunity for less cars on our street, for with more taxis comes easier travel across town comes less need to drive yourself.

June 02, 2008 2:47 PM  
Anonymous L-Dub said...

Dave S. (commentor above), I could not have said it any better... it always amazes me, living here in MA, how the Liberals think it's everyone ELSES personal and moral duty to implement a nanny state, until those same Liberals actually have to personally chip in for it! (Hence why Liberals are only comfortable lobbying on Beacon Hill b/c they don't ACTUALLY like opening up their wallets for the causes they support, they only feel comfortable opening up everybody else's wallets via unnecessary taxation!) Seriously, reading this stuff kills me...

June 02, 2008 7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, even though I'm not a liberal, here's one place where I agree with Outraged. $77 a day to lease a medallion IS outrageous. And, yes, the monopoly ownership of licenses is the reason. Basically, a privilged few own most of the medallions and can charge whatever the market will bear.

More medallions would solve that problem - but will never happen. The people who own all the medallions are too well connected politically.

June 02, 2008 7:17 PM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

I always thought conservatives hated government regulation and people taking money out of their wallets without justification.

Oh well, just the inconsistency of conservatives. If you like the way the City of Boson regulates the taxi industry to give you less for more, just hop in the next rust bucket that drives by.

More medallions is very definitely the answer. They have become commodities, like oil, to be bartered by the few for their own benefit.

And being a true liberal -- I walk wherever I can.

Thanks for stopping by.

June 02, 2008 7:29 PM  
Blogger bostonph said...

Wow: Mass. conservatives are a bitter bunch. Three posts of generic liberal bashing without even a token attempt to advance the discussion. Sad, really.

My question: can anyone explain the silly segregation of Cambridge and Boston cabs? I understand they're different cities, but trying to explain to Cambridge visitors why the three Boston cabs that just passed them can't pick them up just gets you laughed at.

June 03, 2008 12:54 PM  
Blogger C. August said...

I'm curious... has anyone thought to ask why there is a need for medallions in the first place? Why is the government artificially restricting the market, mandating scarcity by capping supply?

The contradictory and confusing situation we have here where medallions cost as much as a house, drivers work 12 hr days, everyone's profit margins are being squeezed, drivers have to beg the city to set prices when it's the market that should do that, and customers are rightfully annoyed at both the high prices and bad (or non-existent) service... it's all due to government interference in what should be a free market.

The medallion system makes no sense, and it violates the individual rights of the people who want to run a taxi business, whether it's a fleet of taxis or a single immigrant trying to make a life for himself.

June 27, 2008 9:24 AM  

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