Sunday, June 21, 2015

I Owned a Taxi for Five Years

I owned a taxi for five years, so I'm pretty much an expert on them. For a while I owned three and had two drivers. I also used to sell them.

Occasionally I'll get people who have no knowledge of the business telling me how to improve it. This always involves their misunderstanding of the free market.

Owning a taxi was just about the best job I ever had. I was an independent contractor and worked whatever hours and days I wanted. That meant a lot.

The biggest problem today is immigrants, who've collapsed wages. I would kick all of them straight out of the United States.

Owning a taxi used to be a middle-class job. Not anymore.

When I first started I met an older man named Al, who started driving in the '50s. He told me when he first started he thought, "Where has this job been all my life?" I knew what he meant. I had a blast.

The taxi companies, of course, were corrupt. All taxi companies are corrupt. It's the nature of the business. One owner I worked for avoided prison by ratting out his partner since they were the two biggest bookies in the city. His partner went to prison. He went free.

I get people telling me all taxis need to go completely free market. To a large degree, yes. But not totally. The free market is not some magic that works in all places and at all times.

In the city I worked there were airport taxi companies that were the only ones that could sit at the airport. Other taxis had to deadhead back to other places. It was very inefficient and wasted a lot of gas and time.

Finally lawsuits busted that open, so non-airport taxis can now sit at the airport. That's a good use of the free market.

Downtown at the big hotels was a different story. The taxis that sat there were called "dummies," because they had no radios and just sat in line at the hotels. This caused big problems.

Since the hotels generally had one to three places for taxis, other taxis would line up ten deep, taking metered parking places. On hot days the drivers would sit on sidewalks in chairs. There were fights and arguments. That's what a completely free market did.

Finally the cops, because of complaints from hotels and citizens, said, no more. Only taxis were allowed in the assigned places. One to three at every downtown hotel. So the others cruise and try to steap other taxi's rides (this is called "scooping").

The taxi business has been destroyed by immigrants. Again, it is no longer a middle-class job because of this, because of the collapse of wages. Just as bad, many immigrants are sexual perverts and harass the woman. I used to know a Russian who put a mirror in his car so he could look up women's dresses. And one Nigerian drove a woman around and wouldn't let her out of his car. Fortunately both got fired but should have never been hired in the first place. They shouldn't have been in the U.S. in the first place.

Busting taxi companies wide open is a good deal if you got rid of the immigrants.

The reason Uber and Lyft are doing so well is because those who call them know they are going to get an American driver and not some smelly psycho immigrant who can't speak English and gargles with garlic. (By the way, John Nash and his wife were killed in a wreck by an immigrant driver.)

I used to have a cellphone on me which was against the rules because you could get regular riders who would call you directly. Sometimes I cleared $100 a day just from them calling me.

If I had my way I would open up taxis completely to the free market - and it would work only because of advanced technology. Cell phones and computers. And I would kick every immigrant out of country.

I'm going to repeat the only way taxi companies can be busted wide open is because of advanced technology. Otherwise it would be just as it was in the past - corrupt companies using the government to pass laws to protect their turf and enrich the companies at the expense of the drivers.

This is what technology does - puts the inefficent, the stupid and the smelly out of business. It improves service.

it's the deluded who think open borders and immigrantion are free market. Wages go down and crime goes up. That's not "free market." That's the wealthy trying to enrich themelves at the expense of everyone else.

But there is always a way around these problems. There always will be.

Personally I'd love to see every large taxi company go out of business. They're only in business because of laws protecting them.


Jim said...

Uber is opening themselves up to being labeled and national company now because they stupidly put out an edict prohibiting drivers and passengers from carrying guns. And while they're seeking to absolve themselves of responsibility and lawsuits if something gun related does happen, they can be labeled as a corporate entity because of it.

Anonymous said...

Companies like Google and Delphi have already made self driving cars for years now.

And throughout those years, those cars didn't cause a single accident, whenever there was an accident it was always caused by the human driver of the other car.

In two decades time we will have self driving taxi's, ubers, etc. It will not matter whether we have immigrants or not, these cars have been shown to be safer than human drivers whether smelly immigrant or respectable american.

Unknown said...

A big part of the experience of being in a taxi is having someone to talk to. Self-driving taxis aren't going to make a big dent in the market. I've had many crippled people need a ride across the street or put help to get into their house. Self-driving cars aren't going to help them in the car or put their wheelchairs in the trunk. They're not going to carry their groceries into their house or take a drunk home or find the house of an old man or woman who has forgotten where they live. I know the business inside and out and know what will work and what will not work.

Robert What? said...

It also used to be possible for a middle class guy to be a NYC owner operator. Because of corruption and a manipulated market, that is no longer possible either. I can't recall the last time I got an English speaking American driver, black or white.

Unknown said...

Corruption and a manipulated market is exactly what is going on. The corruption is endemic but wouldn't mean much except the owners use the law to enrich themselve at the expense of the drivers.

ray said...

"I know the business inside and out and know what will work and what will not work."


Anonymous said...

I don't comment on this site often. However this article is thought provoking. Good insight into the industry. Anybody have any info about small companies that hire drivers as independent contractors? Briefly worked for one that I found on Craigslist. I liked the job but it fell through for completely unrelated personal reasons.

Mindstorm said...

So it seems that you don't worry about self-driving cars replacing regular taxis, Bob. What are your thoughts about the possibility of bean counters being replaced by programs?
(the link courtesy of Nick Land)

Glen Filthie said...

I hear they are doing the same to the trucking industry. Immigrants will cheerfully pull 18 hour days whereas DOT specs out a maximum of hours around 10 or 11. They are literally killing people too when they fall asleep at the wheel. White drivers that take the law and their licenses seriously can't compete with third world trash that don't.

The other thing they do that pisses me off (the pakies are the worst) is that they will literally drop their oil on the ground in hotel parking lots when they do their own oil changes and repairs. Their countries are filthy places and they are extremely dirty people.

Rusty Shackleford said...

Taxi cab drivers have a higher job fatality rate than policeman of firefighters. They are 20 times more likely than average to be murdered on the job. So let me ask you, Bob, what were your general rules for safety? And then specifically what sort of person or situation do you just drive away from?

Unknown said...

I've known drivers murdered, stabbed, and robbed. Never pick up anyone who flags you down except wearing a business suit downtown (which means airport). NEVER pick up anyone who smiles at you (it means, see I'm harmless but in reality I'm not). I never had a problem except a few guys running off with out paying.

Unknown said...

Bean counters. What a horrible job. I had a girlfriend with an MBA in Accounting and Finance from the University of Chicago and she quit her $120,000 bean-counting job for the feds after three years because she couldn't stand it.

I use TurboTax and love it. I no longer get a headache doing my taxes and I would never hire anyone to do my taxes.

Anonymous said...

Uber is losing lots of money: