City councils across the nation are taking a page from the Federal Government in their ability to take over entire industries. Taxicab companies are fighting against their local bureaucrats for their very existence. In Hampton Roads, Virginia, it is no different. Just like when the Federal Government accused doctors of cutting off limbs for more money, apparently local governments feel taxicab drivers exhibit the same characteristics. They claim drivers take longer routes, overcharge customers, drive unsafe vehicles and provided selected services. These bureaucrats use crony capitalism to dismantle the taxicab industry. Now, the term public-private partnership is worn proudly.
In 2007, the City of Hampton, Virginia used tax money to hire the Tennessee Transportation and Logistics Foundation (TTLF) to conduct a Taxi study. The study states that restructuring “depends upon the actions of the existing or potential full service taxi companies.” It also states that things could deteriorate with the loss of Hampton’s only full service taxi company if it decides to relocate its equipment and capacity elsewhere. In addition, GPS technology to track cabs; vehicle age limits and 24/7 dispatching were requirements within the study and it acknowledged some businesses will not be able to comply and go out of business. So, the City of Hampton implements an ordinance that prohibits nearly all from doing business in Hampton Roads.
Someone gave this college professor (disguised as a company) the authority to implement an ordinance that puts people out of business. Our local governments are instilling draconian ordinances that cannot be refuted and greatly impacts the industry catering to limited number of companies.
The neighboring city of Newport News took a slightly different route by appointing a Transportation Panel to engage the issue. Two organizations represented were the airport and the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber who voiced concern about the customer service and impact that the taxicab industry has on tourism in Newport News. So, when researching the Chamber’s membership, the two active members under the taxicab category are the Yellow Cab of Hampton and Yellow Cab of Newport News, the largest companies in their respected locales.
If the Transportation Panel wishes to protest the taxicab customer service or tourism issues, the airport should not be involved. With body scanners, taxicabs are the least of their customer service problems. While the airport implemented a 10-year vehicle age limit on taxicabs, the average age of a Delta aircraft is 13.8 years and US Airways is 12.2 years. What age restriction is the airport going to require of these airlines? Oh, that’s right…. Crony Capitalism.
There are situations like this happening across the nation. Salt Lake City reduced the number of taxis 25 percent and the number of cab companies to two. They even restricted the number of taxis waiting at the airport. Just this week, San Francisco taxi drivers went on strike due to mandatory credit card machines. Now, where’s the outrage at our city government for pushing credit card machines.
In Miami-Dade they conduct audits and they have an auction for taxi medallions at a minimum bid of $100,000. They also require wheelchair accessible vehicles, security cameras, rear compartment swipe (credit cards) and dispatch systems. Of course, TTLF conducted a study in 2007. In Austin, they had a four-person team from the city conduct an audit to where they required more than one full-time Enforcement Officer to ensure compliance. Again, the implementation of these requirements was preceded by a TTLF taxi study.
City council members need to consider where you stand on this issue because if you vote to implement this, this will create another bureaucratic department and put businesses out of business. For a small business owner, buying a new taxi every so many years or demanding expensive oversight equipment is the equivalent to a major airline purchasing an aircraft. But this is a good test to see who is willing to make the vote…crony capitalism for the airlines, credit card companies & government control or entrepreneurism for their constituents?
To my fellow citizens, it is a time to see where your city council actually stands. If they vote for it, they are either ignorant on the subject or exercising crony capitalism. Either way, they may need to go. Either way, let their actions speak.