No rules for drivers would harm riders

I DID a double-take when I read Tom Keane’s April 7 column (“Change is coming, and it’s with smartphone apps,” Op-ed, April 7) in which he asserts that anyone with a “decent vehicle” and the ability to drive “competently” should be allowed to play taxi driver and transport an absolute stranger. Those are meaningless standards, and if self-enforced — as rogue apps insist they should be — they certainly won’t preclude a felon from playing taxi driver in a dangerous vehicle.

Keane also calls for an end to the taxi medallion system, saying their ownership rests only with a wealthy few. Not true. About 70 percent of owners in Boston possess just one or two medallions. There is no oligarchy. Their purchase is an investment in their retirement. Killing that system will wipe out a major part of their retirement plan.

Lastly, it’s fine to haggle for (or be gouged for) a nonessential item like a coffee table at a yard sale, but not for a taxi, which amounts to public transportation. When someone needs a taxicab to a hospital, in a snowstorm, or even just in rush hour, a regulated fare creates certainty rather than taking advantage of a passenger through surge pricing.

Alfred LaGasse

Chief executive officer

Taxicab, Limousine &
Paratransit Association

Rockville, Md.