I had this totally solid plan for getting to BWI airport. Get on the Green Line at U Street / Cardozo and take it out to Greenbelt. The train is scheduleed to arrive at 4:35 PM, just in time for the $3 bus leaving at 4:40 and taking me right ot my terminal. Except I didn’t have enough money on my card to cover the exit fee for the trip to Greenbelt, so I had to put more cash on while in the station, and wound up missing the bus by about ninety seconds. Next bus not until 5:20. Bad news. Fortunately, there were about a dozen idle taxi drivers in the parking lot and absolutely no one getting in any cabs. Under the circumstances, I figured someone would crack and give me a break on the fare. But no. I was able to take the first guy I approached down from “about $45″ to “$40 flat fare” but nobody would go any lower. I make no grand claims for my skill as a negotiator, but since I actually wound up walking away and waiting for the bus it wasn’t my ineptitude that stopped the deal from going through.
In the whole time I was waiting for the bus to arrive, two people got in cabs and four other cabs drove away (perhaps on calls) so it was more or less a lose-lose proposition all around. One assumes, however, that the cabbies derive some benefit over the long term from not bargaining against one another. It’s interesting that the cartel doesn’t operate by simply observing the regulatory floor set by the meter of $40 since setting a price floor would seem to be the purpose of taxi fare regulations. Waiting for the bus, all I could think was “what would Tyler Cowen say about this?” I note that about ten minutes in, the only thing stopping me from cracking was pride. If someone had said “okay, you win, $38.50″ I totally would have taken the deal.