The Globe’s searing series on the ugly side of taxis in Boston reminds us that excessive regulation can turn entire industries into shadowy, corrupt spheres. The purpose of taxi regulation is simply to protect passengers against being fleeced by unscrupulous cabbies, and to keep passengers, bystanders, and the environment safe. Yet the system instead has evolved mainly to enrich the holders of government-issued taxi medallions, even as taxi drivers struggle to earn a living and passengers pay some of the highest rates in the country.
An obvious way for Boston’s budding mayoral candidates to show their commitment to a freer, better city is to champion far-reaching reform of the taxi system. The exposure of the problems with the medallion system creates an opportunity to replace it with an annual license fee, extend single-city cab systems into a regional network, and permit genuine price competition in car service.