Uber and Taxi Racism

A blog about business and economics.
Nov. 28 2012 9:54 AM

Uber and Taxi Racism

Latoya Peterson has a great piece on the ways in which Uber has helped African-American passengers deal with the problems of hailing a cab while black.

Beyond the specific issues of race, I think the kind of price control regimes that we have in the U.S. taxi market generally feature a certain kind of perversity. New York City, for example, is really large. It also has a limited quantity of taxi medallions. Since the medallions are in short supply, they're very expensive. The drivers, in turn, are renting the medallions from the medallion owners. This creates a huge potential problem for the drivers. They're legally obliged to take you wherever you want to go in the city, including random parts of the outer boroughs where very few people are looking to hail a cab. If they drop you there, they need to waste time returning to some more likely place before they can get a new fare. And the medallion owner isn't going to give them a break on the rent just because they had to take you to Little Neck or wherever. They're just screwed.


So now the drivers have a huge incentive to find ways of avoiding picking up passengers who are going someplace inconvenient for them which ends up screwing people who need to go to those places.

The normal way of working this sort of thing out is price flexibility. If you want a service-provider to provide you with an inconvenient-to-provide service, you just have to pony up the money. But you can't do that in taxi markets.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.


Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Oct. 19 2014 1:05 PM Dawn Patrol Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights.
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 4:23 PM A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 20 2014 7:00 AM Gallery: The Red Planet and the Comet
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.