My initial conclusions from your summary:
- Local package deliveries are too low in value, I'm not sure you'd be able to make enough to get away from the starting shuttle in a reasonable length of gameplay time.
- Visibility and knowledge of the reputation effect and the increasing value of missions (delivery/taxi) matter since you can read this from the data but you don't get any feel of it in the game itself.
- The perfect trade problem: I suck at trading, it's just difficult to figure out the best routes etc so I'd expect that most other players are struggling to find good trades too.
Take the trading: You might find a great route but it's most likely that you'll find a barely profitable one and just be stuck with it for a while until you finally realise that one-star-to-the-left is 10x the profit per tonne. Likely you looked through all of the other 12 stars nearby and picked the best of those, star 13 would have been worth more but it's a rarity and people won't hunt *that* much for a perfect place.
Conversely it looks like the package deliveries and taxi runs are probably fine. They seem to fit and as long as you pick a profitable one each time then, as you say, on average it'll work out at ~100 credits. It might even work out better for players because they'll just set a lower limit and accelerate time until better offers come up.
Maybe it needs to be clearer, somehow, that this is how you should be starting out, shipping parcels and people? Buying passenger cabins to increase your rate of profit before other options become really viable.
It also makes me think that the "Barnard's Star" starting ship, a Xylophis, is... really, really harsh.
Trade seems far too nerfed to be useful right now, it's never been that much fun, especially without pirates to threaten, attack and steal from you. Just looking at the prices of things and there's not enough differentiation between places of high supply and demand, so a tonne of grain is 10 credits but a tonne of air processors / Mining Machinery is 12 credits. I'd guess that going from an industrial world too a farming one should have a much higher gradient in value but that's not possible when things have such tiny values in the first place.
This also makes me wonder about the supply and demand price differences between world "types", is it enough.