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Another taxi survey

From the inbox:

Vehicle for hire industry survey

The City of Houston has retained Taxi Research Partners to conduct a study of demand within the vehicle for hire industry in Houston. The study will review current market conditions, identify key players and stakeholders in the industry and will establish a baseline for demand for those services.

This will allow for an initial review of market conditions and assist in data collection, including the identification of correct market “players” for electronic data requests. Additionally, the study will identify elasticity and cross elasticity of demand between different modes of transportation within the vehicle for hire industry.

Please take a moment to complete the survey by using the link below. Whether you are completely satisfied with the service or if you believe there is a need for improvement, your response is vital to the success of this study. All responses will be held in the strictest confidence, so please comment freely.

Survey Link:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HoustonTaxi

Thank you,

City of Houston Administration & Regulatory Affairs Department

There have been at least two other studies done in Houston, one a taxi study done for Houston commissioned by the Administration & Regulatory Affairs Department, one a taxi demand study commissioned by Uber. I’m not sure what we might learn from this that we didn’t already learn from those, but there’s the link if you want to participate.

Meanwhile, the study process has begun in Austin, and The Highwayman observes the state of play in Houston while noting that all things considered the dispute here has been pretty low-key.

It’s important at this point to note a few things about the status of the negotiations, and this issue in general.

  • City officials and both sides have been at this debate for more than a year.
  • Uber and Lyft are not operating legally in Houston, so long as they accept money for rides without having a taxi medallion.
  • They are, however, doing background checks on their drivers, though not the detailed ones cab drivers face.
  • The city commissioned a $50,000 study, city staff poked holes in and generally disagreed with a lot of findings, which is reflected in their suggested rule changes.
  • The added delay is happening because until recently the city’s largest taxi-limo company, Greater Houston Transportation Company, would not negotiate, saying the entrants were rogue operators, period, end of story.
  • If the city just bars the proverbial gates and refuses to let Uber and Lyft in, everyone is going to end up in court. They’ll likely end up there if they let them in, too, unless Houston finds compromise where no one else has seemed to.
  • Not that it is a guarantee they will abide, but the sooner Houston has a good set of laws that cover everyone, the sooner everyone will follow them.

Taking all of those things into consideration, by the standard set in some other places, this has been smooth. The change taking place is hugely disruptive to the paid-ride market, and Uber and Lyft have racked up 160 citations by last count.

Will mediation and some extra time help things along? Or has our somewhat smooth path just been the precursor to the upheaval?

See Wonkblog for what that upheaval has looked like elsewhere. Things may get more contentious here, but not like that.

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