For decades, I have advocated for reduced entry regulations* in the taxi/limousine industry. Over the past year or so, though, it has begun to look as if competition and innovation using smart-phone apps would do what local regulators refused to do.
But of course the industry incumbents have fought back, challenging Uber, Lyft, et al. (private car services) both legally and politically. From the Washington Post (via Sean),
"The taxi industry has donated $3,500 to state legislators for every dollar that Uber, Lyft and their smaller competitor Sidecar have given . . . This massive discrepancy in political giving may also explain why, since the start of 2014, at least 12 states and the District of Columbia have introduced new regulations aimed to limit these popular ride-sharing applications."
It's much cheaper and easier to compete for anti-competitive regulations through lobbying than for customers through efficiency and innovation.
Interestingly, 35 years ago Washington DC was considered a low regulation taxi market with few entry restrictions and with zone pricing.
*Please note I'm referring to entry regulations here. See this: Regulation by Municipal Licensing (co-authored with J. Bossons and S. Makuch). Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984.
I have less objection to ways of assuring vehicle and driver quality, possibly via huge liability insurance policies advertised by the umbrella firms, which would then have an incentive to vet the drivers and cars.