Compulsory taxi cameras: Crampton translates

Eric Crampton translates a NBR article on the introduction of compulsory cameras in taxis.  My favourite bit:

“In-vehicle cameras are widely supported among the industry as a way of preventing competition by new rivals, and while drivers can never be 100 percent safe, these measures will make a significant reduction to the risks competition that drivers face.”

I cannot understand how the government convinced itself this was good regulation – I suspect the industry told them that it would “look like” they were saving lives, a political win, and so they just went for it.  Fail.

13 replies
  1. Paul Walker
    Paul Walker says:

    Somehow I can’t see the cost being so high as to act as much of a barrier to entry. I would have thought that safety screens in cars would be more of a problem for cab owners and so they would act as more of a barrier. So if the taxis companies really wanted to stop entry, screens would have made more sense.

  2. Eric Crampton
    Eric Crampton says:

    @Paul: The entry that’s deterred is small guys who hook up with a minor dispatcher during big events but otherwise use the car as their normal passenger vehicle. The cameras don’t cost much, but they do help to make it rather less of a passenger vehicle.

  3. Matt Nolan
    Matt Nolan says:

    @Paul Walker

    @Eric Crampton

    I also think it is a significant enough cost to prevent “casual” entry just before a major event. It is more than the cost of the camera, but the hassle involved with setting it all up which will prevent entry from potential small players.

  4. Matt Nolan
    Matt Nolan says:

    @make money adsense


    If the taxi driver takes his safety into account already, why is there a need to legislate? If they aren’t willing to buy a camera, it could be that the expected benefit from putting it in is lower than the cost for the individual driver …

  5. rauparaha
    rauparaha says:

    So it’s a political win and everyone but economists thinks it’s a good idea. I dunno… that doesn’t sound like a ‘fail’ to me. Unless I was an economist, that is. Doh!

  6. Eric Crampton
    Eric Crampton says:

    I’d like to see some industry stats. What proportion of cabs on the road are full time and what proportion only come on at times of peak demand? What proportion of cabs are dedicated cars and what proportion double as home passenger vehicles part of the time? What’s the distribution of fares per week by car?

    If there are a reasonable number of basically retired folks who pick up extra fares on weekends or around big events, dispatching with minor dispatchers, but otherwise don’t bother, then the supply effect will be pretty big. If there are hardly any in that category, the effects won’t be that large. Pointless regulation either way, but I’d like to have a better idea of how costly it’ll be.

  7. Matt Nolan
    Matt Nolan says:

    @Eric Crampton

    True – however, even if we looked at the stats and there was not many retired folks who roll into the market that doesn’t mean that there wouldn’t be during a large event like the RWC.

    I expect this regulation to lead to a spate of those TV shows where there are drunk people in cabs embarrassing themselves – not looking forward to seeing myself 😉

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