Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Volunteer Cab "wins" approval, but may lose by delays. Update 2

Yesterday the Metro Transportation Licensing Commission approved an application from a group of taxi drivers wishing to start there own cab company called Volunteer Cab. However, the approval is contingent on a budget increase to fund more taxi cab inspectors. (link)

What? Would we prohibit new restaurants from opening because we do not have enough restaurant inspectors?  Would we prohibit new home construction because we do not have enough building inspectors. Would we prohibit the licensing of more vehicles because we do not have enough traffic cops? Would we prohibit the opening of new florist shops because we don't have enough florist shop inspectors? I think not.

Karen Johnson
Council Member Karen Johnson who has been a strong advocate for Volunteer Cab arguing for their right to start a new cab company said, "We are working on some things to address this.  Our preference is that they don't have to wait until this time.  We are working with Jerry Maynard to see what other options we have." 

I hope there are other options.  The next Metro Budget is not until June 1. According to the expanded version of this story in the print version of the Tennessean, the cab drivers are currently working for other cab companies and they fear retribution from their current employers due to this effort to start their own cab company. A delay could mean they are all out of work and financially ruined by the time they get final approval to go in business for this new driver-owned cab company. In Nashville most cab drivers own their own cab and pay all of their own expenses but pay a "lick" of between between $150 to $200 a week to the company they are associated with. If a cabbie is fired, his payments on his vehicle and some other expenses continue.

This delay is an injustice. There needs to be major reform of the way taxi cabs and limousines are licensed and regulated. It should not be the mission of the regulatory agencies to protect established businesses from competition.

Update: The City Paper does a much better job of reporting this story than the Tennessean, read here.
Update 2: For a more in-depth report from the Tennessean, see here.

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