At first glance, few things seem simpler than a taxi ride: call or hail a cab, hop in, declare your destination, and fork over a few bucks when you get there.
But beneath the simple, even romanticized, service model, the process that led to your passage has a host of largely unseen mechanisms – questions of competition, permits, fees, and what’s best not just for passengers but for drivers.
These questions were publicly highlighted earlier this year in a report from Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, a nonprofit dedicated to pro bono legal work for the disempowered. TRLA’s white paper on the local taxi industry, “Driving Austin, Driving Injustice,” resonated with the alarming conclusion that after terminal fees, gas, and lease payments are deducted, local drivers regularly work more than 60 hours a week for less than minimum wage.
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