Best Legal Grift

City Paper

Since last year, people in Baltimore have been able to use their smartphones to hail a for-hire car service to take them, well, wherever they want. It’s incredibly easy and convenient—and a huge and possibly illegal disruption of the for-hire transportation regime. In essence, these are high-tech “hacks,” those unlicensed taxi services that are hailed, curb-side, by prospective passengers’ hand signals. Licensed taxi-cabs and other for-hire transportation services are regulated by the Maryland Public Service Commission, and the main two services that are—for now—skirting the PSC’s purview are Uber and Lyft. Enjoy them while they last in their current iteration, for regulators are fast toeing the taxi-industry line by moving to bring the disrupters into the licensed fold in the name of protecting the safety and fair treatment of cabbies and passengers. In the meantime, consider them a legal grift, enjoyable not only for their convenience, but because they’re bending the rules.

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