Innovating Ancient Ride-Hail Regulation

In mid-February, two Uber executives will go to trial in Paris for organizing alleged illegal taxi services. In London, Uber almost faced a major regulatory crackdown with the support of mayor Boris Johnson, who affirmed these regulations are needed to “level the playing field” with traditional taxicabs. And in some cities around the United States — Las Vegas and San Antonio, for example — Uber was outright banned until this past year.

Whether cities are regulating or banning Uber, the rhetoric used to justify these actions plays on this idea that Uber is constantly breaking the law and therefore must be regulated like taxicabs. Unsurprisingly, these bans and regulations are supported by the city cab companies, which view Uber as a threat to their existence.

Putting aside the special interest stink of these actions, does it actually make sense in the 21st century to regulate Uber like taxicabs?