Hillsborough County's Public Transportation Commission is a poor excuse for a taxicab regulator. That's been the case for years. Yet Hillsborough legislators continue to give the PTC the benefit of the doubt when what consumers need is more reliable, affordable service.
The bay area legislative delegation voted down a measure this month that would have cleared the way for Hillsborough voters to abolish the PTC. That would have been a first step toward folding the agency's operations into a different arm of county government. The move could have saved taxpayers' money by eliminating overhead and putting pressure on the agency to be more aggressive in reducing rates and bringing luxury and on-call car services to the market.
Too bad lawmakers bought the usual arguments by agency apologists that everything is fine and that abolishing the PTC would lead to an unregulated market and unsafe conditions. That could not be further from the truth. No one is proposing to deregulate the taxicab industry. What the public wants is a system that works.
State Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa, and Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, should continue to lobby their colleagues on the need to create a more functional regulatory body. There's nothing hard about folding the 10-person staff into county government, and the agency would continue to fund its operations through industry fees. The only loser in professionalizing this process would be the taxicab industry, the biggest cheerleaders for the status quo. Is it any wonder?