This morning’s Boston Herald has a bit of an investigation into the practices of Boston’s cabbies. It turns out they’ve been refusing to take certain fares, calling them unprofitable. The Herald’s story focuses on the outrage angle, of people having difficulty getting where they need to go.
But there’s another angle that they don’t touch upon. The cab business in Boston is highly, highly regulated. The number of cabs is strictly controlled, fares are fixed, and other issues are micromanaged to an astonishing degree.
For example, cabbies can charge passengers the tolls when going to and from Logan Airport, but not for going to and from East Boston. The cabbie has to eat those charges. And if it’s a short trip, that can pretty much wipe out any profit for that run.
I have a friend who is a cabbie here in Manchester, and he makes decent money. But from talking to him, I understand that it can be a hit-or-miss business. (It makes me glad I work for a big company, get paid hourly, and get benefits. He often has more cash than I do, but I have a sense of security he doesn’t — to me, a worthwhile tradeoff.)
So here’s Boston, so tightly controlling the cab business that’s actually demanding private business actually lose money in order to continue operating.
That’s the kind of thing you can get away with when you’re The Government.