The Spontaneous Order Of The Market In Action

Here’s a great story from yesterday’s New York Times on the practice of slugging, which is the informal arrangements for ride-sharing in DC to enable drivers to use the 3-person HOV lanes.

Slugging started by spontaneous eruption and runs by perpetual motion. When the area’s three-person, high-occupancy vehicle lanes opened 30 years ago, some guy and then another and another picked up commuters at bus stops to get the passengers needed to use the lanes. No government agency sanctions slugging, runs it, regulates it, promotes it or thought it up. The Census Bureau, which tracks most forms of commuting, knows nothing about slugging.

The article goes on to describe the rules that have evolved to govern the transaction (no talking to the driver unless you are talked to first, no fiddling with the radio, and so on), and to describe the success of the institution for all parties involved. The article also goes to great lengths to point out that there is no regulation of this commuting institution, and yet it’s safe, and an effective way to balance flexible schedules with decreased commuting times.

What a great example of market processes in action.