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Taxi and Limousine Commission

News about the Taxi and Limousine Commission. Commentary and archival information about the Taxi and Limousine Commission from The New York Times.

ANTITRUST PROBLEMS

 

State and local governments violate 15 USC Section 3(b) of the antitrust law and other sections of this law. When city and county governments monopolize taxi-cab medallions or permits and refuse to issue new medallions or permits to professional taxi-cab drivers in order to increase the medallion cost, and thus force the driver to lease and rent from taxi-cab companies at an exorbitant price, it is an antitrust law problem. Their actions cause the medallion and the permit cost to increase to a range of $1,000.00 to $600,000.00.

 

Drivers lease and rent from taxi-cab companies for more than $34,500.00 a year. The consequence is that taxi-cab fares are increase to a rate that residents, tourists and the economically disadvantaged individuals cannot afford.

 

It is an antitrust law problem because the economic power is concentrated in the hands of a few and the cab drivers have to work as slaves, about 18 to 20 hours a day, in order to make ends meet. That situation allows cities, counties and taxi-cab companies to monopolize the market, restrain free trade and prevent a better mass and public transportation system as well as prevent a stable economic growth. Both the passengers and the taxi-cab drivers were injured and exploited because of state and local governments’ behavior.

 

In some jurisdictions such as Washington, D. C. and West Palm Beach, Florida, owning a taxi-cab medallion or county permit is a right that belongs to the professional taxi-cab drivers, not a privilege or a favor. It should be that way nationwide.

 

For example, if American Airlines, United Airlines… wishes to put 200 aircrafts in service the federal government will issue 200 aircraft “N” Numbers (N number is the name of for-hire license registration for aircraft) to the airlines company immediately. But why do we prevent the poor taxi-cab driver from obtaining a medallion/permit when he/she needs only one medallion/permit to take care of his/her family?

 

In order to promote fair competition, good trade, equal opportunity, fairness and to prevent too much taxi-cab on the road; and to stop investors monopolize taxi-cab medallion or county permit , I strongly believe that the hack license number or taxi operator's license number of the driver should also be the medallion number or permit number of the taxi-cab driver and the licensed vehicle should be operated only by the taxi-cab driver it was assigned to. The medallion and its vehicle shall be free from any liens and cannot be a part of compensation in any personal injury and civil lawsuit.

All personal injury claims shall be made according to 49 U.S.C. Section 5340 (J) of the proposed bill. (See Exhibit A).

 

It is at the same time an antitrust law problem, a constitutional law problem, a human rights problem, a civil rights problem and a labor right problem. The federal government, Congress, US Department of Justice, US Department of Commerce and US Department of Transportation should intervene in order to deregulate taxi-cab medallions and taxi-cab permits as well as the whole taxi-cab industry.

 

The taxi-cab medallion is not a stock or a piece of real estate. States and local governments should stop considering it to be like that. Medallion is the name of the for-hire license registration number for the taxi-cab vehicle, like the “N” number is the name of the for-hire license registration number for the aircraft, and the USDOT number is the name of the for-hire license registration number for a commercial vehicle like truck, bus, etc.

 

Aside from Washington D.C., most City and County codes as well as the statutes of most States prevent taxi-cab drivers from making a living and having a decent life as a human being.

 

Taxi-cab drivers deserve better treatment than that and a fair share of the money generated in the public transportation industry, because it is at the same time a human right, a civil right, a labor right, a constitutional right and an antitrust law problem.

 

An aircraft “N” number (“N” number is the name of “for-hire license registration for aircraft”) cost ten dollars ($10.00). The price of a USDOT number (USDOT number is the name of “for-hire license registration for commercial vehicle like trucks, buses, etc.”) is between $150.00 and $550.00. A water vessel registration number (for-hire license registration for vessel) is less than $100.00 in most states. But, why does the value of a taxi-cab medallion (medallion is the name of “for-hire license registration for taxi-cab”) have to reach the $1,000.00 to $600,000.00 range? There is almost no expense associated with assigning a registration number to a vehicle. Just the cost of the paper, the printing, and the processing time. It is the duty of Congress and the appropriate Federal department office (DOJ) to solve this antitrust law problem.

 

There are U.S. Supreme Court cases that invalidate particular state and local regulations of public passenger vehicles for-hire due to their impact on interstate commerce in violation of the U.S. Constitution. See 49 U.S.C.S. Section 13506 n 8 (See Exhibit H).

 

In some areas like Miami-Dade County, Florida, taxi cab drivers pay more than $32,700.00 a year for their lease which includes insurance. Unfortunately, when the drivers get involved in an automobile accident, the taxi-cab company claims that: “ Your passengers, and the driver and passengers of the other vehicles are covered but you are not covered by the company’s insurance policy’’. The driver has to spend his or her own money in order to repair the vehicle and to get proper medical care.

 

Another antitrust violation is when taxi-cab companies create a direct phone line with a hotel. Inns of Virginia located at 3335 Lee Highway, Arlington, Virginia is an example. As a result, the hotel guests only get rides with taxi-cabs of that company, while excluding the others. This is a monopoly. Visitors and tourists do not have opportunity to call taxi-cab companies others than those offered by hotel valets and receptionists.

In violation of their own jurisdiction’s code, some hotels and motels prefer to partner with unlicensed drivers who sometimes rip off passengers in order to make money. According to District of Columbia taxi-cab drivers, when Quality Inn’s guests ask the receptionist to call a cab for them, hotel workers state the taxi-cab company put them ‘’ on hold’’ and after 15 minutes an SUV or a Van (private vehicle) comes and the receptionist says: “Sir, this is your taxi driver.” Quality Inn located at 501 NE New York Avenue NE, Washington, DC is an example.

Hotels and motels sometimes might receive kickbacks from taxi-cab companies for that service.

Other hotel valets in New York, Miami Beach, Florida and other states sell taxi-cab fares (customers) directly to taxi-cab drivers for cash. Even if the guest needs a taxi-cab, valets do not release the fare unless the taxi-cab driver agrees to pay them $5, $8, $10, $15, $20, $30, kickback.

These antitrust violations problems that happen in hotels and motels around the country can only be solve by 49 USCS 5340 (e) (9) of the proposed bill. (See exhibit B).

 

At Fort-Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport, only Yellow Cab is allowed to pick up passengers at the airport while all the other companies can only drop off passengers. City and County governments took away the right of other companies to pick up anyone in any terminals. This is a monopoly and an unfair trade practice. See 49 USC Section 5340 (e) (8) of the proposed bill (See Exhibit B). The proposal can easily solve the problem. The county government can generate much money by charging each cab driver a $2.00 airport charge, as they do at Miami International Airport and the Port of Miami. Also, be advised that a professional cab driver who works at Miami International Airport and the Port of Miami pays more than $5,000.00 a year in city, county and state toll charges.

 

 

EXAMPLES OF MAJOR PROBLEMS

 

A major existing problem is that some jurisdictions allow medallion holders to pay by big taxi-cab companies for the use of their medallions. That creates monopoly, restrain free trade and eliminate competition. Medallions or permits should be restricted to use by those to whom they were issued, county-wide.

 

Other jurisdiction issued the medallion or permit at no cost directly to taxi-cab companies which provide daily rent, full lease or partial lease to taxi-cab drivers at an exorbitant price. After one or two years of owning those medallions or permits, taxi-cab companies resale them to taxi-cab drivers for a lump sum of money in the range of $5,000.00 to more than $150,000.00. Taxi-cab companies later on, return and request more medallions or permits from city or county governments and do the same thing again.

 

This is antitrust problem, corruption, financial fraud and illegal earnings. Local government should stop behave this way because the drivers and the passengers suffer, exploit and pay for the consequence of their action.

 

Also in violation of federal code, sometimes at airports and seaports taxi-cab drivers are forced to pick up passengers with children under five years old in order to fulfill passengers needs when the cab has no child seat. Foreign travelers who are unaware of the child safety seat law usually feel discriminated against when taxi-cab drivers refuse to pick them up with their infants. We do not expect that our local governments are going to do anything about it.

 

It is urgent for DOJ, FTC, DOT and Congress to step up in order to solve the lack of civil rights enforcement, verbal harassment by law and code enforcement officers, inequality and other problems that exist in the taxi-cab industry. Extending the application of United States and international labor law standards to employees in the taxi-cab industry is a must. Congress should identify and address all obstacles which prevent their full application in order to promote social justice, fairness and to maintain a strong economy

 

In violation of U.S. code 49 USC Section 5302 (7),(10),(14) (See Exhibit C); some jurisdictions like Miami-Dade County allow a “ Passenger Motor Carrier” (PMC), which is an intercity, sightseeing and charter vehicle, to do intracity public transportation. Also, the county promote unfair and destructive practices by permitting PMC to compete with public transportation vehicle, transit and mass transportation vehicles which is prohibited by 49 USC Section 13101 (a),(1), (D), (F), and 49 USC Section 13101 (a), (2), (I), (J), and other sections of the U.S. code. (See Exhibit D).

 

This form of transportation (PMC), created by Miami-Dade County and the County Commission, picks up non pre-arranged fares daily at all hotels, motels and the Port-of-Miami, especially when cruise lines passengers are disembarking, which puts taxi-cabs and shuttle bus out of business. (See Exhibit G) Consequently, the Department of Justice and Department of transportation should order the following:

 

1- Passenger Motors Vehicles (PMC) shall not come into the Port of Miami or Miami International Airport unless if they have to drop off or pick up a pre-arranged passengers. See 49 U.S.C. Section 13102 (17) (Exhibit F)

 

2- If it is a drop off, they must drop the passengers off and leave the seaport or the airport immediately thereafter. They have no right to pick up anyone except pre-arranged passengers.

 

3- If it is a pick-up at the sea-port, the driver shall provide a list that has the full name, address, and passport number of his/her passenger, including the name of the vessel which brings the passengers at the seaport to a code or law enforcement officer who will verify the validity of the pick-up with the ship agent.

 

A) The ship agent shall collect the full name, address, and passport number of each passenger

who will take a sightseeing, intercity or

charter vehicle and make the list available to law and code enforcement officers who are working at the Port of Miami.

 

It shall be unlawful for charter, sightseeing and intercity vehicles to pick up a non-prearranged passenger upon disembarking. Each ship shall have its pre-arranged passenger list located near the exit door of its own terminal. Violators shall be punished according to federal, state and local law.

 

C) The names that are on the list of each driver

as well as the list provided by the ship agent shall be typed with fourteen (14) point font

and not hand-written.

 

D) A pre-arranged fare shall be made 24 hours in advance of the pick-up date.

 

E) No Passenger Motor Carrier (PMC) greeter shall be allowed at any seaports for any reason, as they have been proven to be a source of violation.

 

 

A major error that exists in Miami-Dade County Code is the fact that it includes “Jitney”, a fifteen (15) passenger vehicle which offers transit services to the public in specific routes, in the same category as sightseeing, intercity and charter transportation vehicles. The Federal Code is clear. Mass transportation, and transit transportation are “public transportation”. See 49 U.S.C. Section 5302 (7) and (14). As a result, the Jitney should be in the category in which it belongs, transit transportation, as city and county buses are.

 

U.S. Code 49 U.S.C. Section 13506 (a) (2) generally exclude the Secretary of Transportation and Surface Transportation Board from exercising jurisdiction over taxi-cab services. However, 49 U.S.C. 13506 (b) allows the Secretary of Transportation or Surface Transportation Board to exercise jurisdiction to carry out the transportation policy of Section 13101 when it is necessary. (See Exhibit E and D).

 

Today, all conditions and criteria of 49 U.S.C. Section 13506 (b) are met in order for the Secretary or the Board to enforce part of 49 U.S.C. Section 13101 in the taxi-cab industry because of major violations of 49 U.S.C. Section 13101 (a) (1) (B),(D),(F) and 49 U.S.C. Section 13101 (a) (2) (I), (J) caused by most cities and county governments nationwide. (See Exhibit E and D).

 

As the Secretary or the Board is reluctant to enforce the above codes, it is the duty of the antitrust Department of the Department of Justice to solve those problems and to deregulate taxi-cab medallions in the U.S. The hack license number or taxi operator's license number of the cab driver should also be the medallion number or permit number of the taxi-cab driver and the licensed vehicle should be operated only by the taxi-cab driver it was assigned to.

 

A regulation like that will prevent to much taxi-cab on the road, stop investors and companies from monopolizing taxi-cab medallion or county permit, and keep the meter fare at its lowest cost. Cab drivers will spend less time on the road and economize more money. Residents, tourists, and economically disadvantage individuals will save more money. More people living in big cities will find jobs. The unemployment rate will decrease because of million of new self-employed that will be created nationwide.

 

INTERSTATE COMMERCE ASPECTS

 

Congress, US Department of Transportation, US Department of Commerce and US Department of Justice have the power to regulate this subject under the commerce clause of the US constitution. At the passenger’s request, taxi-cabs usually cross state lines or several states in order to drop off their clients. For example, after September 11, 2001, several taxi-cab drivers in Miami, Florida received fares all the way to the State of New York and several other states because cruise lines tourists and other travelers were afraid and scared to commute by air. Unfortunately, some of those taxi-cab drivers are paid less than half of the fare because Congress does not cover taxi-cab under interstate commerce.

 

Consider a $3,000.00 taxi-cab fare after September 11, 2001 from Miami, Florida to Cincinnati, Ohio, ending up with the driver collecting only $1,000.00 from the passenger. The driver did not have opportunity to collect even a part of the remaining 66.67% of the total cost of the fare. Also, taxi-cabs, which are operating in counties that are located close to or at the border of two or three different states always engage in interstate commerce daily, weekly or on a monthly or yearly basis.

 

Taxi-cab is the only reasonably-priced form of transportation we have that can bring you from point A to point B, whatever the road condition and at anytime. It is fast, quick, on time and can go anywhere. Anyone can use it countrywide. It is time to make it more affordable to all US citizens, residents, and visitors. Deregulate taxi-cab industry and the medallion as well as passing a federal legislation like this one is the first way to start.

 

Taxi-Cabs should have a larger section in the United States Code than 49 USC 13102 (20) (A) (B) (i) (ii) and a better section than 49 USC Section 13506 (a) (2). The drivers and the public will be very thankful to you if you can help them reach their goal. The section 13506 (a) (2) of title 49 should be eliminated and changed.

 

 

P.S. If the system we are proposing currently works in Washington, D.C., why not the rest of the country?

Please help us spread the word! If a meeting is needed to reach that goal, do not hesitate to contact us.

Our mission is promoting the interests of member taxi-cab owners, drivers and the public.

 

 

ã Copyright 2011 - American Association For Taxi Cabs (AATC) - All rights reserved.