Traveling can be stressful. I’m usually comforted when the airplane safely touches down at my final destination, especially when it’s at Lambert International Airport. Unfortunately, Saint Louis cabs can add to the stress and deplete the pocketbook.
This past week, when my flight into Saint Louis was over an hour and a half delayed, I realized I would have to catch a cab home. I usually can persuade my friends to pick me up by offering them Starbucks, but since my flight landed at 1:00 a.m. no one was able to pick me up. With MetroLink stopping service at 12:57 p.m., I was left with no other choice than to get a cab ride back to my apartment in Midtown. After collecting my bags, I went to the taxi stand to find only one company offering cab services. After a 15-mile ride to my apartment, I was stuck with a $44.14 cab fare.
Ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft operate out of cities like San Francisco and Chicago at much more competitive rates. San Francisco even offers UberPool, which matches you with other riders heading in the same direction with the fare split among several riders.
However, since I live in Saint Louis, a city that is inhospitable to innovative and competitive ridesharing companies, I was unable to seek an affordable option.
The Metropolitan Taxicab Commission (MTC) is a regulatory body meant to protect the consumer. Instead, they protect the cab companies who profit from anti-competitive regulations, while consumers are left without options that are prevalent in a competitive market.
Looking through the ridiculous regulations of the MTC’s code, cab companies picking up customers from the airport must obtain a permit and give one dollar for every fare to the MTC. At this time, the MTC has only granted permits to seven cab companies. With limits on the number of permits made available, cab companies are shielded from meaningful competition and can set prices that would be too high in a market with free entry.
I hope the next time I fly into Saint Louis, UberX or Lyft will be an option because I cannot afford many more $45 cab rides.