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Freeing up ride-hailing and paratransit

Summary:
The new ASI paper, “A Fair Shake,” by ASI researcher Maxwell Marlow, has called for a complete overhaul of the UK approach to ride-hailing. Specifically, the new paper calls for the abolition of outdated regulations that now serve to limit entry into the activity, to restrict access to new technology and new practices, and to impose costs that increase the prices that passengers have to pay. The famous ‘knowledge,’ for example, that costs would-be black cab drivers thousands of pounds and years to complete, restricts the numbers going into the profession and acts to restrict competition thereby. In the days of satnavs, it seems there are viable and less costly alternatives. Competition, says the ASI paper, is the key. It can allow innovative technologies to make inroads into established

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The new ASI paper, “A Fair Shake,” by ASI researcher Maxwell Marlow, has called for a complete overhaul of the UK approach to ride-hailing. Specifically, the new paper calls for the abolition of outdated regulations that now serve to limit entry into the activity, to restrict access to new technology and new practices, and to impose costs that increase the prices that passengers have to pay. The famous ‘knowledge,’ for example, that costs would-be black cab drivers thousands of pounds and years to complete, restricts the numbers going into the profession and acts to restrict competition thereby. In the days of satnavs, it seems there are viable and less costly alternatives. Competition, says the ASI paper, is the key. It can allow innovative technologies to make inroads into established and expensive practices, and to bring greater flexibility and lower costs into the activity.

Reform of the licensing and the regulations which currently restrict ride-hailing could open up the activity, generate many thousands of jobs and give a shot in the arm to areas that need a boost economically. For example, it notes that the current system takes fulltime investment and employment to provide transport that typically peaks during the morning and evening rush hours, and is underused for the rest of the day.

Reviving a proposal that the ASI first put forward in 1980, the new study calls for the introduction of a new tier of passenger vehicles in the shape of the paratransit light vehicle. Used in many other countries around the world, these are typically 8-15 seater vehicles that offer shared rides to passengers who hail them from the street or catch them at designated pickup points, rather than from fixed stops. Instead of working to fixed timetables, these vehicles use numbers instead to provide a frequent service that picks up passengers from the curbsides, and drops them off at places they request. Fares are cheap because of low operating costs and multiple passenger numbers.

The new paper will undoubtedly ruffle feathers among established operators, just as the automobile shook up the coaching industry. Indeed, the requirement for motor cars to be preceded by a man carrying a red flag was inserted at the behest of the coaching lobby. However, the attractions of the new offerings were sufficiently strong that the public successfully clamoured for the industry to be freed up. The ASI is confident that the same will be true of the proposals it makes today.

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