The Taxicab: An Urban Transportation Survivor

By Gorman Gilbert; Robert E. Samuels | Go to book overview

12
THE SURVIVAL OF PRIVATE ENTERPRISE
IN PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

The taxicab industry in the United States has been undergoing a subtle yet fundamental transition. All industries must continually adapt to new conditions if they are to compete and survive economically. This process of adaptation is not, however, always a smooth one; there are periods of dramatic change and periods of relative stability. The taxicab industry has been passing through such a period of dramatic change.

The reasons for this period of change have been discussed in previous chapters. While the immediate cause is declining profits, the fundamental causes are both more numerous and less simplistic. Higher energy and other operating costs have forced operators to pass these costs on to taxi passengers through higher fares, but taxi passengers are often unable to bear higher costs and must reduce taxi usage. At the same time taxi operators have faced stiff competition from a large number of government-funded transportation programs. Taxi operators have therefore been caught in a vise of higher costs and subsidized competition.

The changes that these forces have caused are already apparent within the industry. Operators have switched to leasing and ownerdriver programs to reduce payroll costs. Some have also switched to smaller vehicles so as to save fuel. Many operators have pushed for inclusion in publicly funded transit and human service transportation, and virtually all have concentrated on cutting costs by finding less expensive sources for parts and reducing nonpaid mileage.

At the industry-wide level an ironic change has taken place. An industry which has historically been rather circumspect and isolated

-170-

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The Taxicab: An Urban Transportation Survivor
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • TABLES AND FIGURES ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • 1 - Myths, Misconceptions, and Neglect 3
  • 2 - European Ancestors of the Taxicab 8
  • 3 - The Development of the Taxicab 25
  • 4 - The Birth of Taxicab Fleets 38
  • 5 - The Depression and Regulation 61
  • 6 - War and Recovery 74
  • 7 - Federal Involvement 86
  • 8 - The Economics of Taxicab Operations 103
  • 9 - Service Innovations 123
  • 10 - Regulation and Deregulation 141
  • 11 - Dimensions of Change 156
  • 12 - The Survival of Private Enterprise in Public Transportation 170
  • Notes 181
  • Bibliography 187
  • Index 191
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