The MTC’s Newest Fight Is For Its Life

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Uber X St. Louis rolled into existence on Friday.

No, Uber did not win the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission’s permission to operate. Instead, the ride-sharing service filed a federal anti-trade suit against the MTC.

In the first weekend, Uber X provided over 5,000 rides, mostly from people leaving bars between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. In other words, by defying the MTC, Uber X kept 5,000 drunk drivers off the road.

Uber X drivers typically drive six hours a week. They are not full-time taxi drivers. When I’m on the road, I use Uber almost exclusively–usually Uber X or Uber SUV if I am part of a larger party.

Last year in San Francisco, I met an Uber X driver. She’s in college and trying save money to go on a mission trip with her church. She was friendly and happy.

Friendly and happy also describes Lamont, another San Francisco Uber Xer. Lamont drives full-time. He’s a former taxi driver who described the move from a cab to the Uber as “freedom.”

“No one wants to ride in a cab,” Lamont told me. “They’re dirty. They don’t have to pick you up. You call a cab and you wait. Sometimes, they never show up. Uber always does.”

Meanwhile, Missouri legislators have vowed to shut down the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission during the next legislative session beginning in January. House floor leader Todd Richardson is reportedly among those leading the fight.

The MTC is composed of eight commissioners and a chairman. Four of the members are taxi company executives. Only one commissioner supported Uber X–Chris Sommers of Pi pizza restaurants. Meanwhile, fellow restaurateur Kim Tucci.

Uber X in St. Louis was as inevitable as were trains in the 1850s. St. Louis’s leaders blocked trains across the Mississippi to protect their cronies in the riverboat industry then, and the MTC tried to block Uber X to protect cronies in the taxi business.

In the end, government-led protection rackets always break down after inflicting a lot of damage on the people. Now, the MTC will face dissolution by Jefferson City lawmakers. It’s about time.

 

 

Transportation in the 21st Century Event

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You can’t get there from here.

The way people get from here to there–and how they pay for the privilege–is about to change. We want you to have a say in the future of transportation.

To help, Heritage Action for America is teaming up with St. Louis Tea Party Coalition to put on a Transportation Empowerment night on Saturday, July 25, 2015 at 6:30 p.m.

Speakers Include:

  • State Rep. Paul Curtman
  • Ryan Johnson, President, Missouri Alliance for Freedom
  • Ben Evans, Heritage Action for America

Learn about initiatives like the Transportation Empowerment Act that would keep federal gas taxes in the states where they’re paid.

Refreshments from McArthur’s Bakery provided by Heritage Action.

RSVP:
Facebook Event

St. Louis Uber Nada

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About this time, a variety of railroads began trying to build their own networks to the West, but the St. Louis city government refused to grant the permits required for constructing railroad bridges across the river at their location, even though St. Louis was the logical choice and would have been a perfect place for a rail hub. Apparently, the politicians in St. Louis felt their duty was to protect the riverboat industry, at that time their life and blood, from any and all competition.

– via LinkedIn PulseDon Peppers, native St. Louisan, wrote that paragraph about cities and states blocking Tesla from selling its cars to the public. Missouri is one of those states, preferring to protect incumbent car dealers from competition over allowing the market to determine winners and losers.

It’s funny, in a sad sort of way. St. Louis was one of the fastest-growing cities in the western world in 1850 when goods and people moved on water. Then the city leaders tried to prevent railroads from spreading. Instead, the railroads moved to Chicago, stunting St. Louis’s growth.

St. Louis is in steep decline. Not as steep as Detroit or Gary, Indiana, perhaps, but, St. Louis is headed toward minor city status. We’re about to lose our second (and final) NFL franchise. We are dead last in the country in business formation. And we’re the largest city in the country without UberX.

That last problem isn’t Uber’s fault: it’s the fault of St. Louis’s parochial mentality. St. Louis protects incumbents, even when the incumbents fail the people.

Two weeks ago, Uber announced free uberX rides for the Independence Day weekend in St. Louis. Mothers Against Drunk Driving found:

In California, drunk-driving crashes fell 6.5% among drivers under 30 in the markets where Uber operates following the launch of uberX in the state. That represents potentially 60 fewer drunk driving crashes each month — a total of 1,800 crashes avoided — since July 2012.

July 4 weekend being a period of partying, free uberX rides might have saved lives or avoided accidents and drunk driving arrests.

[click to sign uberX petition]

But the Metropolitan Taxi Commissions said “no” despite St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay’s strong support of the free rideshare offer, the MTC blocked uberX.

Kim Tucci, co-founder of The Pasta House restaurant chain and member of the taxi commission, last week exhorted St. Louisans to stop criticizing the city and start talking it up. Yet, Tucci’s own taxi commission exemplifies St. Louis’s greatest weakness: parochial attachment to incumbent, crony businesses at the expense of growth and opportunity. According to St. Louis Business Journal, Tucci is one of the commissioners blocking uberX in St. Louis by demanding excessive regulation of the service.

St. Louis is dead last in business formation among the 50 largest metro areas in the US. St. Louis has lost innumerable Fortune 500 headquarters in the last 30 years. Yet St. Louisans still protect legacy companies from needed competition.

The world moves on with or without St. Louis. In the 19th century, the railroads moved to Chicago. Eventually, uber will give up on St. Louis and move to a smaller city eager for the future of transportation.

And Kim Tucci will continue happily serving pasta to a shrinking, aging customer base, ignoring St. Louis’s sad decline.

You can help save St. Louis by signing the petition to bring uberX to the Gateway City

Featured image by St. Louis photographer Naffziger clipped from www.stlouispatina.com.