Thursday, 1 April 2010

Cameras in taxis: why regulate? (updated)

I have written on this idea before when I pointed out How not to organise an industry. At that time the issue was that the Government was looking at forcing taxi companies to install cameras or screens in cars. It turns out that its cameras. I said in the previous post,
Why does Joyce think the government has to mandate anything? If the taxi drivers want extra safety equipment do they not have all the incentive they need to install it? After all it is the taxi driver's lives that are at risk, that would seem like the best possible incentive to attend to safety measures.
And I still say that. Matt Nolan at the TVHE blog takes a similar line. Eric Crampton claims its just an anti competition measure. May be, but show me who is being kept out of the market. Is the cost of a camera really so high that it will keep people out of the market? Don't see it myself.

More likely the taxi federation is just trying to score brownie points with the government so that when the federation wants something in the future the government will play ball. Either that or both the government and the taxi federation are working on "we must do something about this problems, this is something, lets do it" type logic.

Update: Not PC on Nanny Joyce on camera.


Eric Crampton said...

It would be quite the knife edge for camera costs to be insufficient to deter entry but sufficient to make it undesirable for individuals to put in their own cabs without coercion. You might prove existence on that one, but it wouldn't be a very broad range of costs...

Eric Crampton said...

The brownie points argument I'm not sure makes sense. Recall that Joyce's first reaction was the common-sense "If they want them, they'll put them, in; why is this my business?" Brownie points would have then been "You're quite right; we'll put them in voluntarily", not lobbying to have it mandated, no?

Paul Walker said...

Assume the drivers don't want the cameras but the taxi federation want to make nice with the government. Then supporting mandated cameras would make sense, in particular when added to the "must do something" logic. The government wants to be seen doing something about the problem, so the taxi federation makes nice by supporting them.