So when TNC boosters tell me that the taxi and TNC industries don't need regulation or caps because new technologies enable the market to regulate supply and demand all by itself, are they talking about something like this?

[T]his Valentines day, while traveling through San Diego in an Uber car, Lane heard something that disturbed him. "The driver had a Ford Sync system, and it read his text messages out loud." The message, which came wedged between numerous texts about a promotion for free roses, said, "UberX is very close to SURGE. It's Valentine's Day! People will be out all night and we didn't activate new drivers to make earnings even higher this weekend."

... Uber confirmed the text message, but says the whole thing is a misunderstanding. The company did not artificially restrict the number of drivers who were able to come on to the system on Valentine's Day — a particularly busy day for Uber rides — says spokesman Andrew Noyes. He explained the text simply noted that Uber did not onboard as many San Diego drivers as they could have that week because in the two weeks prior, a very large number of new drivers were added to the system. Earnings had been low, and the company wanted to reward new drivers with a strong holiday paycheck.

These weren't blind market forces. It was a management decision. So whether or not Uber was attempting to trigger surge pricing, any way you look at it management was artificially constricting supply in order to force up drivers' earnings. You know, kind of the way the city does when it caps the number of taxis and TNCs on the road.

So it's not really a question of whether to artificially cap supply, but rather who gets to make that decision.

[Slog tip Eric]