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Uber, Lyft and Congestion

Uber and Lyft are supposed to have cut traffic congestion by taking cars off the road. Right? If you think about it, if I take Uber my car is off the road and then the Uber driver picks up someone else whose car is off the road and so on and so on, so traffic should be reduced by Uber, Lyft and co. But Wait….

According to the New York Times, read it here, Uber is actually causing congestion in the Big Apple. It seems that over 60,000 drivers have become Uber and Lyft chauffeurs and now congestion has slowed traffic in Manhattan from 6.5mph to 4.7 mph and everyone is complaining. The city had limited the number of Taxis that could ply their trade on the island to around 13,600 and that kept congestion to a minimum, but it also meant that getting a taxi at 5 pm in the rain was virtually impossible.

Enter free enterprise and Uber. Now hailing a vehicle is quick and easy, but you sit in traffic created by the smart phone app phenomenom. The law of unintended consequences is alive and well.

An article nearby notes that traffic app Waze has simply moved traffic from congested thoroughfares to quiet side streets and causing havoc in formerly sleepy neighborhoods. Isn’t technology wonderful. But that’s another blog.

So can you guess how the powers that be in New York are going to solve this problem. Yep, tax it. They figure that by raising taxes on Uber and Lyft, they will move riders from the car to the currently disfunctional subway, and all will be right with the world. Plus, the city’s pockets will get some much needed filling.

I wonder — what if they just left well enough alone. Would not a lot of Uber and Lyft drivers simply stop driving since they would be unable to make much money due to the fact that there were more cars than riders and that trips would take so long that they couldn’t get then turnover needed to cover costs?

Unchecked, capitalism often fixes problems without outside help. But what do I know.

JVH

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