Editorial: Driven by choices
Beacon Hill is considering legislation that would ban Uber and Lyft from picking up passengers at Logan Airport and the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. But the agency that runs the Seaport convention mecca — to its credit — isn’t waiting to see whether this bit of naked protectionism for taxi companies wins the day.
The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority plans to designate specific pickup spots for passengers who choose to summon a ride on their smartphones, rather than waiting in line at the cab stand.
It isn’t just about convenience. The move represents an official vote of confidence in the smartphone-driven service at a time when taxi companies are pressuring Beacon Hill for exclusivity.
“As taxis have a designated location, we thought why not have a designated location for transportation network companies,” said James Folk, the MCCA transportation director. “If you hail an Uber or Lyft, it will tell you exactly where to go to pick it up.”
Officials at the MCCA know what’s up.
They know that conventioneers expect to be able to step outside the facility or a nearby hotel and summon the ride of their choosing.
And they know that convention organizers, when deciding where to plan their events, won’t go rushing to a city that proactively works to limit its visitors’ options.
The business community knows that, too. The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau are now on the record opposing the ban.
But taxi medallion owners have the ear of some key politicians. Supporters of the House bill, which is still pending in the Senate, acknowledge that the effort to block the services from picking up at Logan and the BCEC is meant to preserve the (now-dwindling) value of taxi medallions.
A final bill to regulate the transportation network companies should exclude this unwise provision.
In the meantime the MCCA is supporting consumer choice, which is as it should be.