R Street Institute, a D.C.-based think tank, released its Ridescore website last week. The site grades 50 large U.S. cities based on taxi, limo, and transportation network friendliness. Portland received an F, making it the second-most transportation-hostile city in the survey. Why did Portland rank so poorly?
For taxis, competition is restricted through the use of a fleet cap, which limits the number of vehicles each cab company can operate. A recent study by the Portland Bureau of Transportation shows demand for taxis far exceeds supply on weekends, a direct symptom of fleet caps which prohibit even one more cab unless consumer demand for that cab can be proven before it is even put on the street.
As for limos, Portland forces customers to wait a minimum of one hour before receiving service. On top of that, fares for limos must be at least 35% more than those for taxis, keeping prices artificially high.
Finally, Portland is so hostile to transportation network companies like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar that they have not been able to enter the market at all.
Portland is known for having one of the best public transportation systems in the country. Despite this, our misregulated private transportation system is one of the worst. Until this changes, we’ll continue to be stuck in the transportation dark ages.
Matthew Hayes is a research associate at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.