Sunday, January 25, 2015

Justice for NashVegas Cab. Metro needs to stop protecting the powerful from competition.

When "black cars" first made their appearance in Nashville, the Metro Council's response was to impose a minimum fare and other onerous regulation to drive them out of business in order to protect the established limousine companies and taxi services from competition. As time has passed we have seen peer-to-peer livery service such as Lyft and Uber make their appearance in our city and the Council removed the minimum fare requirements that would have kept them from operating. New reasonable regulation have been written to provide protection to the public but that does not protect providers of livery service from competition. 

I am pleased that the black car services such as Metro Livery and the peer-to-peer services such as Lyft and Uber can now provide their services without Metro trying to drive them out of business. There is still injustice occurring in the transportation sector however. 
Until 2011 all cab companies were owned by a few big companies who got a certain number of permits from the city. The cabs you see on the street were not owned by the cab companies but by the individuals who drove them. The cab owner was usually the cab driver and he had to pay a weekly fee to the company under whose name he operated and had to cover all of his own expenses. The driver owned the car and provided the labor and paid the overhead; what he did not own was the permit.

That year a group of Ethiopian drivers got together and formed a new company, Volunteer Cab, that would be a cooperative, actually owned by the drivers. For doing the same amount of work, the drivers could make a descent living instead of just barely getting by. Now, there is another company, NashVegas Cab which is also owned by the drivers. This company would like to provide service to a greater area than is now served by companies. The company had 133 drivers but only has been awarded 35 permits by Metro. 
Metro needs to stop being an impediment to innovation and stop functioning to protect the established from competition and get out of the way and let competition determine who wins and looses. Metro's treatment of NashVegas is unjust. If the Transportation Licensing Commission does not issue NashVegas the permits they need, the Council should intervene and correct this injustice.
Below is a fact sheet from NashVegas Cab. The highlighting and underlining are mine. Rod

NashVegas Cab Deserves More Permits!

On January 27, 2015, the Metro Transportation Licensing Commission will decide whether the 133 drivers/shareholders of NashVegas Cab deserve more permits. 

       In January, the 133 drivers/shareholders of NashVegas Cab received only 35 permits in our attempt to serve the transportation needs of Davidson County.  Additionally, we received only one permit to serve airport commuters. 

         Uber & Lyft have operated in our city for over a year without regulation, which has created an uneven playing field for NashVegas. Furthermore, Uber/Lyft even signed an agreement with the Airport Authority to provide transportation services. 
         The decision of the TLC to grant permits to other companies who do not even have drivers for them, while not providing us with enough permits for all of our drivers/shareholders seriously impacts our business model for countywide transportation service. 

        As a result of the action taken by the Commission, the remaining driver/shareholders of NashVegas are forced to continue driving with other taxi companies that require them to purchase and maintain their own vehicles and pay all of the expenses related to their operation, such as fuel, repairs, maintenance and liability insurance. In most cases, these drivers are also responsible for repairs to GPS dispatch technology provided by the taxicab company.

        A further injustice exists as taxi drivers are forced to pay a weekly fee of between $200-$350 ($10,400 - $18,200 annually) for the right to use a permit issued to the company by the TLC, while the company merely pays a yearly permit fee of $255.00. Additionally, as we operate with only 35 permits, we are forced into unfair competition from the established companies who currently hold unused permits and continue to request more, while our drivers wait to serve Nashville.
        A remedy to this situation exists if TLC exercises its authority to reallocate any unused permits toward our request of 120 permits to allow all of our shareholders to drive. Under Rule #3 of the TLC Rules and Procedures:     3. RETENTION OF TAXICAB PERMITS

All cab companies presently operating ten (10) cabs or less shall be allowed to retain one extra permit only; all cab companies presently operating more than ten (10) cabs shall be allowed to retain extra permits in a number equivalent to ten percent (10%) of the number of cabs in operation; all permits in excess of these quotas as defined above shall automatically be canceled thirty (30) days from the date of their issuance. Any permit cancellation executed by the staff of the Transportation Licensing Commission may be appealed to the Commission only on the basis that the staff’s action was made using inaccurate vehicle insurance and registration information. 

NashVegas has complied with the rules and regulations to achieve the American Dream. Please ask the Metro TLC to grant us permits so we can compete on a level playing field. Thank You!

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