This post has very little to do with software, at least in the ordinary sense of the word. However, it has quite a bit to do with “systems”, in particular, political and financial ones. The purpose of this post is twofold:
- to inform and warn visitors to Stockholm (or any other major Swedish city) about the legalized robbery that our “wise” politicians bestowed upon us some 20 years ago, when they completely – and I mean completely! – deregulated the taxi business in our country, in the name of “Free Market” and “the market will regulate itself”.
- in a broader perspective, to point out that despite traditional financial/economic theories, such as those currently taught in all leading business schools, there are reasons for governments and its various functions to step in and closely monitor and regulate certain businesses to avoid a viral spread of immoral and unethical behavior and business practices that every normal person would consider as illegal.
The taxi-business in Sweden used to be heavily regulated until some 20 years ago. Taking any Taxi anywhere in Sweden was as safe as it can be, and resonably affordable. Drivers had to pass stringent and difficult exams on both driving skills and local knowledge (this was way before the proliferation of GPS’s). Unfortunately, the regulation also meant that at certain times, e.g. 03:00 a Sunday morning, there were few taxis available, they were all fully occupied.
To increase the number of taxis, to provide citizens and visitors with better taxi service, our politicians decided to completely deregulate the taxi business.
So, today, when you grab a cab on the streets in Stockholm, chances are high that you will find yourself with a driver who barely can handle the vechicle, who can not find his way (yes, “his”, because the few female drivers still around tend to be of a very different caliber!) even between the most frequently visited points in city (not to mention going from one suburb to another), not even by using the GPS, because that demands skills in reading/writing, and quite a few of these drivers have a criminal record of one type of the other. Oh, and I almost forgot: you might also end up paying a factor 50 or so times more for your fare than if you had chosen one of the “serious” & “clean” taxi companies – yes, there are good taxis also in Stockholm, but in order to pick one, you must know what to look for! As far as I know, the “record” price yet for a fare between the Stockholm Arlanda Airport and City is 35.000 SEK, that is, over 4000 € or 5000 USD!
If you instead know which taxi companies to use, you will rarely pay more than around 600 SEK for a trip between city and the airport. But, this demands being a “taxi-business-expert”, and few if any visitors or tourists are probably willing to spend their time studying for a “Sweden Taxi Business Doctorate” before a visit to our country.
This situation with the taxi business in Sweden is an extreme example of the perils of a competely unregulated market, and the “Bad/Dirty Profits” message that several business thought leaders , e.g. Steve Denning, has been pointing out for some time now, the Bad Profit pressure driven by an extreme short term focus on making as much money as possible without giving a thought on the customer, nor on the effects of such mentality on the overall business, and ultimately, on the society.
This linked blog-post is worthwhile to read for anyone planning to visit Sweden.