Fibre look like copper to the ignorant
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They probably thought the pipe had copper wire in it. There are lots of copper thieves.
In many places they can rise to criminal.
there should be no competition?
There is competition. In my town we have five different cab and a number of independent companies I can choose from. It is just the maximum number overall is capped.
I am just wondering who this is hurting by allowing competition
By allowing unregulated part time cabs who have lower overhead than full time regulated cabs you will drive the full time regulated cabs out of business and the cab situation will deteriorate.
I can jump in my car now and drive from here to Berlin (about 5.5 hour drive),
You don't do that every day of the week every week of the year. See the difference?
There are always different standards for professionals and amateurs. Do you think that someone should need to have an electrician certification to replace an outlet in their own house. Once money changes hands liability and licensing standards rise.
The point is that if it is your job and people who do not know you are trusting you to do it right there will be regulations to protect the consumer. Taxi regulations are not there for the protection of other drivers. They are there so that there is some government over-site present so the customer can have more confidence.
To paraphrase Yogi Berra "No one can get a cab because everone is using them". That is caused because these peak periods only happen a couple of hours a day and a living can not be made driving only those hours.
References please. What you "know" may not be actual facts.
My main point is that anything you can make apply to taxi drivers, should also apply to regular drivers, should also apply to regular drivers
Because taxi drivers do it more often and therefore have a bigger chance in the long run of having issues. A commuter drives an average of 2 hours a day while a taxi driver drives an average of ten hours a day. A taxi driver is five times a likely to get in an accident in the same month. Therefore the licencing is much higher for taxi drivers.
For instance, a guy doing on site tech support spends just as many hours on the road as a taxi driver
An on site tech support spends time at each site. I doubt that any on site tech support spends more than half their time driving. A taxi driver spends at least 90% of their time driving. Sales people do not drive to a location spend 30 seconds there and drive to a different location. They too spend time at each location.
Driving the long route to get a higher fare. It still happens today but with licensing there is at least an authority to report the violation to. If it happens enough times the company can be fined and the driver's permit pulled. Fare kiting is fairly easy to prove as place to place fares are easy to confirm.
They look like they are from the seventies and using an 8 bit colour pallet.
Where I live, the "special drivers license" for a taxi driver amounts to showing that you can figure out how to use an old school paper map
Where I live the requirements are quite a bit higher.
1. You need a provincial class 4 licence which includes a thorough medical exam. It also includes testing the ability to inspect a vehicle for defects before driving. The road skills standard for passing the test is also much higher than a regular license.
2. The city chief's permit requires considerable knowledge of the city without using a map, English language proficiency, and knowledge of the laws governing taxis. Drivers can not follow laws they don't know.
What is so special about being a taxi driver
A taxi driver is on the road many more hours a week than the usual commuter. Due to this the standard for health and proficiency are much higher than the regular commuter.
But I find it rather amazing how every municipality around the world is rushing to the defense of existing taxicab services.
That is because every municipality went through the time when there was no taxi regulations. There was rampant fare kiting, discrimination, lack of coverage, lack of insurance, poor customer service, bad drivers, poorly repaired vehicles, etc. While regulations have not solved all those issues it has decreased them. The fact that many communities that have gone through the same issue have come up with the same solution is not surprising. Taxi regulations have been refined over decades to produce a system that works. No municipality in their right mind would want to go back to the days before regulation.
The funny thing, is if cab companies adopted some digital hailing and hiring tools, they could compete on price and availability.
Actually they couldn't due to the extra costs caused by regulations and the much lower income per driver. One of the main reasons to limit the number of taxi permits is to ensure that a living wage can be made by drivers. Uber relies on part time drivers who are making extra money. There have already been strikes due to low income through Uber. If you think it is hard to get a cab now at time think about it when the drivers are only out there during the good periods.