Before Uber: Jitney

Uber is an inventive way of showing how new technology can provide us with cheaper and more efficient transportation, but did you know the concept of Shared Taxi has been around for a century![1]

Jitney was known as a (5 cent) nickel in the States, since 1914 the mass production of auto-mobiles led to the rise of private taxi services which would cost as little as 5 cents. Jitneys had all the features for rapid transit:

  • Rapid entry and exit
  • Adaptation of demand
  • Better alternative to peak time traffic
  • Accessible to all routes

Majority of the operators of jitneys were simply picking up passengers along the way to work or other trips. Jitney out-competed the street railways in major US cities. Consequently, to prevent the shame of the cross subsidization of public street railways, many cities began to destroy the jitney business by artificially increasing the need for private mobiles by distorting the locations of homes and businesses, then by forcibly preventing the sharing of cars through market regulation.[2]

What’s ironic was that years later after the regulations the municipalities began to encourage car pooling to reduce traffic congestion, but the attempt was an utter failure as non-market mechanism is unable to operate without the knowledge through the market of jitneys and the result was decreased incentives and co-operations among the individuals. Without the ease instantaneous transactions, the planning required to prepare for car pooling required sorting, labelling and other tasks which made the operation a whole lot more expensive than expected; at the same time, it was still illegal to sell their service to any awaiting passengers without a city franchise. The result was a public outcry of traffic jams and overpriced transportion, yet this public irrationality was the result of government’s use of force (Sowell, 1996)!

Shared Taxi was not just a phenomenon in the States but was occurring throughout the globe and encountered the same opposition everywhere thanks to the tyranny of bureaucrats and fascist unions. Shared Taxi was the future and it was curbed, now we can only hope people will realise enabling this service provides the solution to the transportation problem as well as providing benefits to everyone involved.

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One thought on “Before Uber: Jitney

  1. May I just say what a relief to uncover somebody who really understands what they’re discussing on the web. You definitely understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important. A lot more people ought to read this and understand this side of your story. I was surprised you are not more popular since you most certainly possess the gift.|

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