Milwaukee lifts its cap on the number of taxis that can operate in Wisconsin’s largest city.
It’s a victory for individual taxi drivers in Milwaukee and smartphone-based businesses that want to compete with existing cab companies; so says Larry Salzman, an attorney with the Institute for Justice.
A coalition of cab drivers joined the law firm in filing the lawsuit that resulted in Tuesday’s Common Council unanimous vote. “The bottom line is that the taxi cartel doesn’t have a right to be protected from competition.” Salzman says, ” This new law embraces the right of all drivers to earn an honest living by getting into business for themselves. That’s good for drivers; that’s good ultimately for taxi owners; that’s great for consumers.”
Salzman explains this type of “freedom” offers transportation options for consumers and it’s good for transportation entrepreneurs of all types, whether that means individual taxi owners or some of the alternative services like Uber and Lyft, which offer peer-to-peer ride-sharing services via a mobile app.
Some long-time taxi drivers have threatened to file suit. “There are some old owners who would like to see their monopoly preserved,” he adds, “and they’re undoubtedly unhappy about this ordinance; but taxi owners, the large taxi cartel owners, don’t have a right to force the government to protect them from competitions. So, they have no legal claim.”
The Institute for Justice stands ready to intervene and “protect the driver’s right to earn a living,” Salzman says, if existing cab owners ultimately do sue to “preserve their monopoly.” New drivers must follow all the same rules — background checks, car inspections, and they must have insurance on their vehicles.
Last year a circuit court judge ruled Milwaukee’s cap was unconstitutional. Tuesday’s Common Council’s vote complies with that order. Mayor Tom Barrett is expected to sign the measure which would take effect in September. In lifting its cap, Salzman says, Milwaukee becomes one of the freest cities in the nation for drivers looking to enter the taxicab market.