The taxi industry is regulated for very good reasons (one being safety)
I hear this all the time, but no one ever elaborates on what the reasons are. You said safety, but didn't say what the regulations are, how they are intended to affect safety and whether or not they really do.
One regulation that does make sense is the requirement that they carry commercial insurance policies. I think Uber has addressed that part (though I know some think Uber's solution inadequate).
As far as I can tell, the rest of the regulations are just an attempt to construct a functional reputation system in a context where little information is available to riders. By making it difficult and expensive for people to become cabbies, and relatively easy for them to lose that privilege, regulations ensure that only people who are serious about making taxi service a long-term business will do it. For exaple, this prevents J. Random Serial Killer from painting his car yellow and using it to pick up victims. Unless J. Random is also very wealthy, in which case he has lots of easier options. That's just one example, but the same line of reasoning applies to many other forms of abuse.
That all makes sense in a context where riders have no way to judge cabs other than by their appearance. But smartphones and the real-time, ubiquitous access to driver reputation databases they make available change the equation. Or so it seems to me.
Can anyone articulate precisely what other problems the regulations solve, and why the "rideshare" model (yes, I know it's not really ride sharing; let's discuss substantive issues, not quibble about naming) doesn't address them as well, or better? I'd like, for once, to have a conversation about this subject that goes beyond "Uber is exploitative and law-breaking!!!" and discusses the actual underlying issues. In what way, precisely, are cab regulations a better/safer/more efficient solution than ridesharing?