October 27, 2014

No, Uber and Lyft Won't Hurt Consumers

Adam C. Smith

Assistant Professor of Economics, Johnson and Wales University
Summary

A group of prominent economists recently and universally approved of the new transportation services being provided by Uber and Lyft, noting the benefit to consumers. Though most people are now recognizing the benefits of new, cheap transportation services, some are decrying the dangers of an unregulated market.

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A group of prominent economists recently and universally approved of the new transportation services being provided by Uber and Lyft, noting the benefit to consumers. Though most people are now recognizing the benefits of new, cheap transportation services, some are decrying the dangers of an unregulated market. This particular criticism accuses Uber and Lyft of engaging in a turf war that could hypothetically result in one of the firms replacing traditional cab services with a resulting glut of idling cabs, belching exhaust and clogging the streets.

There’s nothing wrong with a healthy skepticism of the benefits of new goods and services, but musing on potential hazards to the environment and misplaced fears of monopoly expose a fundamental misunderstanding of how markets work. While competition is certainly fierce in the current turf war between different transportation services, consumers will almost certainly come out winners – despite fears to the contrary – as people benefit from lower fares, expanded service and greater control of customer feedback.

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