In a decision that is sure to be looked at in a few years with astonishment, the County today voted to issue a cease and desist order for 10 days before an injunction begins. Sigh. This is like slapping telephone operators with fines when their disruptive business model began to threaten the telegram business. Uber and similar on-demand services are destined to transform the economy; it’s not a matter of if but when.
Complete Streets Palm Beaches is a new group that has launched with the intent to create more awareness of countywide livable streets and transportation issues, such as this, and to change public policy in a positive direction. Please follow the page for updates. Also, following is the letter I wrote to the Board of County Commissioners [email all commissioners – use BCC-AllCommissioners@pbcgov.org ]. Please feel free to copy and use it.
I ask that you allow Uber/Lyft and similar on-demand services to legally operate in Palm Beach County.
This is a classic case of regulation not keeping up with market innovation. In this case, the marketplace has actually provided a much better regulatory scheme through self-regulation. If you haven’t ridden Uber/Lyft before, please experience it before passing judgement. I can guarantee you will find the experience more pleasant and safe than riding in a traditional taxicab. Uber drivers are fully vetted and they are regulated by the most important party — the end user. Every driver is rated by the user after a ride and if their rating is low, they are kicked out of the system.
The genius of on-demand services is the ability to respond to demand in real-time. This keeps prices low. Uber is also a solution to the ‘last mile’ problem in public transportation – how do you get from a transit stop to your end destination? Uber provides a cheap answer.
Palm Beach County should embrace what is an inevitability – the transformation of our economy by on-demand services. The longer we wait, the more outdated and backwards we appear to the types of innovators and entrepreneurs we want to attract.