Monday, January 02, 2012

Tennessee Op-ed piece explain Volunteer Cab's victimization by Transportation Licensing Commission

Daniel Horwitz, a Vanderbilt University Law School student, has a good op-ed piece in the Tennessean today explaining the injustice done to cab drivers wanting to start their own cab company (Drivers treated badly for wanting own taxi company). He reports that at the meeting where the permit request for Volunteer Cab was being considered that taxi Inspector Walter Lawhorn made a plea to the commission not to grant additional taxi licenses until more inspectors could be hired. Mr. Horwitz says that Lawhorn argued that additional permits would simply make it impossible for him to adequately inspect Metro taxis.

The motion that was passed by the Metro Transportation Licensing Commission was that "Volunteer Taxi was to be granted some as-yet-undetermined number of permits in July, provided that: 1) the commission received an unspecified amount of additional funding in the next budget, and 2) Director Brian McQuistion performed research regarding other ways to increase commission revenue."

According to Mr. Horwitz, "the motion’s passage left many of us with the unsettling feeling that the commission had just used the plight of the cab drivers as leverage to get a bigger slice of the city budget from Metro next fiscal year."

I could not agree more and I thank Mr. Horwitz for saying it. Bureaucracies are self perpetuating and have a tendency to get bigger and bigger. It is an outrage that these taxi drivers are being held hostage by the TLC as pawns in a push for a bigger budget. It is an outrage that a new company can not enter into service because the bureaucrats do not have the manpower to monitor them. Would we accept that no new restaurants could open because of a shortage of health inspectors or no new homes could be build because of a shortage of building inspectors.

In addition to the TLC using this as an opportunity to grow their budget, something else is going on. The way this issue has been handled combined with the way the TLC has tried to drive the economy limousine companies out of business is an outrage. We are witnessing the worst of crony capitalism in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. Crony capitalism is not free enterprise. It is closer to Fascist economics and should not be acceptable in America.

In my opinion, the Transportation Licensing Commission should be abolished and a new regulatory board should be established and new laws should be written governing public transportation. The guiding principle of any regulations should be regulation compatible with a market economy. The government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers. The purpose of any regulation should be the health and safety of the public, not protecting current providers of a service from competition.

For  more information on these issues, follow this link and scroll down. 

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  1. Rod, I could not agree with you more. I know the industry well, because I was pushed out of the taxi industry by the old school business model when I tried to incorporate new business ideas. Owners became threatened by my business model and worked to put me out of business. This is a sic and gross abuse of government power for private gain. Their entire scheme is to protect government granted taxi monopoly and high end limousine companies. Director McQuistion's main fear is that taxi drivers would paint their cars black and leave their taxi companies to start their own business, which in effect would damage taxi companies or put them out of business. I, being a taxi driver for years, know all unethical and unfair business practices by taxi company owners, who are protected by the TLC.

    See link:

    This above link in a blunt example of Mr. McQuistion's safety. According to the taxi ordinance, every cab company and cab owner is suppose to save trip records for one year for each cab in service. According to the police investigation of that rape case, Yellow Cab company could not provide the trip sheets and refused to cooperate with the Metro Police and ask them to have search warrants to visit Yellow Cab's office records. When asked of Director McQuistion, he failed to answer and did NOT take any disciplinary action against the cab company for this incident.

    All companies are required to keep the manifest for one year. Yellow cab on that incident, failed to provide the manifest and Director McQuistion did not take any disciplinary action on them.

    See....2006 article about an UNLICENSED Taxi driver owned and operated by UNITED CAB who ran over Vanderbilt students.,2933,253038,00.html
    Not surprisingly, Director McQuistion protected this company too.

    My company, Metro Livery, carries 2.5M insurance coverage verses 50K taxi coverage from my first day of business. My company can provide the manifest and records of every trip we picked up since we were in business. The TLC wants to put ME out of business? My company has not been a risk for public safety, compared to the two above examples of Mr. McQuistions regulated companies.

    The only solution for Nashville transportation, is to replace the Transportation Licensing Commission with knowledgeable people that have transportation knowledge and break the monopoly and free the entire industry.

    Sincerely, Syed A. Bokhari

  2. Rod, I could not agree with you more. This is nothing more than the TLC again protecting Taxi company owners, as they have done for many years. Let's take a look at some of the history of the Transportation Licsensing Commission Directors' idea of public safety.

    First, on February 28th, 2010, Abdiwahab Kheir, a Yellow Cab driver was arrested for raping a 21 year old Ft Campbell soldier.

    Yellow Cab, refused to cooperate with the police to provide copies of manifests without a search warrant. See here:
    Every cab company is required to keep the manifest for at least one year. When asked, Mr. McQuistion he only asks the manifest when they need to. To my knowledge, in the entire TLC history, they never audited the manifest for any company. How was this company disciplined for this act? There was no disciplinary action brought against the company for not maintaing proper record keeping.

    My company, Metro Livery, is able to provide any manifest from the first day we were in business. My records are avialable for all inspections in the last six years. I do not understand how a company can not maintain those records.

    Secondly, in 2006, Cab Company: Muslim Driver Who Allegedly Ran Over College Students
    Read more:,2933,253038,00.html#ixzz1iMfrKHdV

    I personally know this driver, and he was driving unlicensed for this company for over one year. I know, because I worked for this company, with this driver.
    How was the company disciplined for this action? They was no disciplinary action brought forth.

    The list goes on and on.

    This commission's agenda is to protect the government granted monopolies to kill the competition.

    Mr. McQuistions' fear is that cab drivers might want to paint their vehicles black and turn into black car drivers instead. One way he is protecting this, is by requiring black car companies, like mine, to charge a minimum fare. What would happen if taxi drivers painted their vehicles black and were not taxi's anymore? Would it distroy the market? I think not. There is more than enough business in this city for as many taxi drivers as black car drivers. Opening this market up, would in essence create more jobs for Nashville and allow workers a better opportunity to have their own business.

    Mr Mcquistion is scared that the taxi company owners he has been protecting, regardless of their unethical and unfair business practices will be out of business if the market was free.

    This is why he is targeting Metro Livery. In fact, Metro Livery carries 2.5M coverage in insurance versus the 50K required for the taxi industry. Is this real public safety? He is restricting my business model with the price fixing and title registration restrictions. I don't think my company has ever put Nashville public in any danger, versus his regulated taxi industry.

    In closing, the only feasible solution, is to replace the TlC with transportation savvy experienced individuals that have industry knowledge rather than those that ran private colleges.

    Also, we need people that believe in our constitution, and in free markets, and they should know bid rigging and price fixing and monopolies are against our constitition. Please free the taxi and limo markets and let the public decide the winners and loosers.


    Syed A. Bokhari

  3. Volunteer Taxi organizers, many foreign-born, have already alleged old cab bosses have fired them from their jobs for conspiring to launch the start-up business. They fear future firings now that their proposal has preliminary approval.