Anyone who’s used Uber knows why it is so highly popular — it’s usually cheaper than using a taxi, you can summon a ride easily by using the Uber app, you’re given an estimate of the cost (no more “broken meters”), and your ride is automatically charged to your credit card.
Recently, however, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission adopted onerous and burdensome rules governing ridesharing services, causing one of them, Lyft, to shut down in New Mexico.
Now, according to this story by Steve Terrell in the Santa Fe New Mexican, Uber is appealing the new regulations to the New Mexico Supreme Court. Taxi cab companies are also appealing, arguing that the regulations are too lenient.
I haven’t studied the legal issues here, and it may well be that the regulations should be upheld under the current state of the law. It’s possible that the taxi companies have a decent, or even meritorious, legal argument.
But from a public policy perspective, our laws ought to give Uber and similar companies the maximum freedom to operate and to compete with the taxi companies. If taxi cab companies don’t like Uber, they should focus on providing better prices and better service to customers, rather than attempting to stamp out competition to benefit themselves at the public’s expense.
So here’s hoping that there’s a legally meritorious way for our Supreme Court to rule in Uber’s favor.
We should also consider what the anti-business attitude that pervades so many of our laws and regulations means for New Mexico. Why do businesses and investors seem to prefer states like Arizona, Texas, and Colorado over New Mexico? You don’t have to look very far to find the answer. And if our lawmakers and regulatory agencies continue to express a narrow-minded hostility to innovation, New Mexico’s economy will continue to suffer.