Qld taxi queues compared to bread lines in Soviet Russia

On 612 ABC Brisbane radio this morning, Steve Austin interviewed my friend and colleague Brad Rogers on Queensland’s highly regulated taxi industry. In the interview, Brad discussed the large cost that the restricted supply of taxi licences imposes on consumers and the possible contribution the restricted supply makes to drunken violence:

Economist says taxi regulation could be contributing to drunken violence

Memorably, Brad compared late night queues for taxis to bread lines in Soviet Russia. Just as Soviet planners couldn’t ensure sufficient bread for Russian citizens, Queensland Transport bureaucrats can’t ensure sufficient taxis for Queenslanders. You need to let the market work and trust that supply will meet demand. Great interview, Brad!

Brad has posted on the regulation of Queensland’s taxi industry on his own blog BJREconomics:

Queensland Taxi Licenses and Drunken Violence

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5 Responses to Qld taxi queues compared to bread lines in Soviet Russia

  1. Katrina Drake says:

    Yes , I heard Brad’s interview. I couldn’t help thinking of the opportunities for rorts that would appear under a de-regulated taxi industry.

    For instance, if Brad is a non-drinker, and drivers his mates home from a night club, and they toss in $10 for the “cab-fee”, he could claim parts of his rego, fuel, de-preciation of his vehicle, milage, as an income producing expense.

    Before we know it, ever soccer mum, school run, car-pool home from work , Saturday night designated driver, will be a full tax deductible taxi-service.

    I still think the only contributor to drunken violence is alcohol and drunks!

    • Gene Tunny says:

      Thanks Katrina. I must say you’re very good at spotting rorts! But if you could legitimately claim a tax deduction, then why not? As Kerry Packer once said, the Govt isn’t spending our money so wisely we should give it more than we have to, or something along those lines.

      Regarding drunken violence, clearly long taxi queues are no excuse for punching someone. But I think Brad is being realistic. Surely there would be less violence if we can get drunks out of crowded areas as quickly as possible?

  2. Katrina Drake says:

    Rather like having the ambulance waiting at the bottom of the cliff….

    Drunks shouldn’t be our wandering the streets at all. It certainly exposes the rort of the on-line Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) at $250 for a worthless government approved certificate that has been promoted for years.

    Wonder how calm even economists like Brad would be if someone was sick in the back of his ‘taxi’. ?

    Where is the evidence? More taxis might just mean more binge drinking and more drunks on the streets. A long taxi queue will be a deterent, at least for the sensible drunks.

    Totally agree with Kerry Packer and yourself, the Govt is woeful at spending our tax-payer money – much better to leave it in our pockets and developing self-reliance.

  3. bjreconomics says:

    Hi Katrina
    Thank you for listening in to my interview, I hope it was ok.
    You raise a couple of interesting points.

    An ambulance at the bottom of the cliff is a great visual of part of the problem. I think your analogy could be taken further and ask, what if there were no ambulances at the bottom of the cliff? Do you just leave the person laying there half dead until even worse happens or should we get the ambulance to pick them up and help them?

    Yes, there needs to be more done about the education of how to drink responsibly and how to behave. But that does not take away from the fact if you get the drunk people off the street faster they are less likely to get into trouble.

    Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) is an attempt to put the risk back on to the person serving the drinks. I would think the pressure should be applied to the people drinking. Currently, there are may new attempts at reducing the problem by putting more police in the area and cracking down on any antisocial activity. This is probably a good way to try and control the situation and encourage people to behave responsibly.

    Not sure what you a getting at with the sick person in the back on my taxi. I guess if I decided to drive a taxi on Friday night and pick up drunk people I would expect the odd vomit in the car. If I expect that to happen I may add the cost of cleaning on to my overall required revenue and price accordingly.

    Not many people alter their drinking pattern on the quantity of taxis that may or may not be available at the end of the night. I think the kind of heavy drinking we are talking about here is mainly done by the under 25 crowd. There could be more education at the high school level on how to drink responsibly and how to behave. Of course this is actually the job of parents but it does not appear to be getting through at the moment.

    Actually, I think there is an even bigger problem of not enough alcohol licenses available in Brisbane. The natural thought is that less licenses would mean less drinking but the American prohibition proved that theory wrong. The problem with limiting the number of alcohol licenses is they are held by a few night clubs who all gather in one area. The limited number of venues all in one area (the Valley) causes congestion. When you put a lot of drunk people in one area that is congested there will be fights. That is because people in a crowd are pushing and bumping into each other particularly when they are drunk.

    Approving more alcohol licenses in more areas would spread people out and reduce the congestion and therefore reduce the fights. Add the increase in taxis and lowered cost of taking a taxi you get less drunken violence.

    Hope this is a better explanation of the way I see the issues.

    Thanks
    Brad

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