Madison PD vs. Reality


Good job Madison, Wisconsin. Here is a perfect example of Fractal Stupidity. In one night, Madison Police found a way to both stymie innovation AND jeopardize the general public. The Madison Police Department thought it was a better use of their time to form a sting operation against Uber and Lyft than to patrol the east side of Madison. Instead of actually preventing real crime, they wanted to enforce an obscure and outdated city ordinance. Here is what you actually need to operate a taxi in Madison.

Beside the lunacy of the approach that the Madison Police Department took, my bigger issue is with the law itself. If you look at the above link, it requires Taxis to file their fares with the city and gives the city veto power of their rates. Second, it dictates what hours they must operate. In other words, Big Brother knows how to run a business better than the wildly successful black car / e-hail services. When is the last time people voluntarily went to the DMV?

Taxis are not a utility. They are not a public good. They are not water nor are they public transportation. There is no god-given right to have someone drive you around in a crappy old yellow Crown Victoria. So why regulate them like a utility? Instead of promoting Madison as a forward thinking city, their laws are making it look like a cowardly bunch of small town hicks who fear change in name of protecting the public.

I’m not a huge fan of Uber's dynamic pricing; I work in midtown Manhattan and see it regularly, but it does make sense. Bill Gurley does a great job explaining it here so I won’t reiterate it.

Hi, Madison. It is time to evolve.

The MPD has cited two drivers for violating Madison's taxi service ordinances. This past Friday morning, a MPD officer, working in plain clothes, was charged $14.35 for a ride from Odana Rd. to N. Lake St. The cited driver said he was working for a company named Uber.

On Saturday evening, a second officer, also wearing plain clothes, was charged $17 for a ride from the 2400 block of University Ave. to the Dane County Regional Airport. The cited driver said he was working for a company named Lyft.

The City Attorney has determined Uber and Lyft are operating illegally as taxis and need to comply with city ordinances. The City of Madison has urged the companies to stop operations until they can comply with ordinances.

via Incident - Incident Reports - Newsroom - Madison Police Department - City of Madison, Wisconsin.