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11 July 2024

NYT > Taxi and Limousine Commission

Deregulate Taxi-Cab Medallions In The U.S.

Major problems affecting the taxi-cab industry are not local, they are national. In this economy, it will after be too costly to take legal action against states, counties and cities for failing to protect their citizens. We do not want to sue each State like airlines did before deregulation. Consequently, it is better for us to work with Congress, the Department Of Transportation, and the Antitrust Section of the Department of Justice to solve this problem.


Cab drivers are self-employed but they are not allowed to charge customers their own price. This is price-fixing by city or county governments, monopoly, discrimination, and unfair competition.


States and local governments should not be in the business of selling permits which we call “medallions” for taxi-cabs. An analogy would be that someone wants to open a business or a restaurant in a specific location, and after buying and installing all of the equipments, he or she applies to county or city governments in order to get a permit. Local governments say “No, we cannot give you a permit in order to sell food. There is a McDonalds, a Kentuky Fried Chicken and a Burger King three to five blocks away from where you want to open your restaurant. They already have permits. Go to see them, and if they wish, they will rent or lease you a space in order to sell your food under their license.” This is the experience of majority taxi-cab drivers in the United States of America.


Taxi-cab drivers slave every day and do not have any family life or social life because they must work 12 to 20 hours a day in order to pay the cost of the taxi-cab’s lease. The opportunity to own both the cab and the medallion should be given to the driver, as they do in the Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital. Sometimes, they spend two or three days on the road without returning home in order to make ends meet because state and local governments fail to protect them.


State, county, city medallion laws are killing poor taxi-cab drivers and destroying minorities' businesses. Therefore, deregulation is needed to bring lower prices to customers, guarantee more competition, and maintain a strong economy. Look at changes that deregulation brought to the airline and trucking industries. Before deregulation, the cost of a New York city to Los Angeles flight was about $1,450.00, but today, $450.00 or less will give you a seat in most airlines.


Taxi-cab meter fares currently are $1.50 a mile in Washington, D.C., $2.70 a mile in Los Angeles, and $2.40 a mile in Miami. The difference is: taxi-cab medallions are deregulated in Washington, D.C. Therefore, residents, visitors and economically disadvantaged individuals get a huge break in the nation’s capital. But in Los Angeles, Miami and several parts of the country, prices rise through to the roof.


First, the Antitrust Department of the Department of Justice should deregulate taxi-cab medallions in the USA under the Commerce Clause of U.S. Constitution. Secondly, under the Federal Code 49 U.S.C. Section 13506(b), the Secretary of Transportation and/or the Surface Transportation Board of the Department of Transportation, have the power to exercise jurisdiction to deregulate taxi-cab medallions, which is now necessary and urgent. Thirdly, Congress should enact our proposed bill and eliminate 49 USC Section 13506(a)(2) and allow the Secretary of Transportation and the Surface Transportation Board to have jurisdiction over motor vehicles providing taxi-cab services due to the involvement of taxi-cab vehicles in interstate commerce; and due to U.S. Constitutional violations as well as antitrust problems caused by State and local governments.


Under the umbrella of the Bill of Rights, the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments and the Commerce Clause of U.S. Constitution, We the people of United States of America seek equal rights in the transportation industry. So, Congress should deregulate taxi-cab medallions and the whole taxi-cab industry, as is done for the airlines, trucking and rail industry. Deregulation will lower taxi-cab fares, increase competition, allow more economically disadvantaged individuals to ride taxi-cabs and bring better vehicles on the road like eight passenger seat hybrid vehicles. Cab companies are not going to spend money to buy equipment like that.


In order to promote fair competition, good trade, equal opportunity, fairness and to prevent too many taxi-cabs on the road; and to stop investors from monopolizing taxi-cab medallions or county permits, 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. The medallion and its vehicle should be free from any liens and should not be subject to seizure for compensation in any personal injury and civil lawsuit.


The taxi-cab medallion is not a stock or a piece of real estate or an equipment, or a consumer good or an industrial good. States and local governments should stop considering it to be similar to 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 a truck, bus, etc. Owning a taxi-cab medallion is a human right and a labor right. This right belongs first to taxi-cab drivers, not investors.


An aircraft “N” number (“N” number is the name of “for-hire license registration for aircraft”) costs ten dollars ($10.00). The price of a USDOT number (USDOT number is the name of “for-hire license registration for commercial vehicles 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-Antitrust Division and Department of Transportation) to solve this antitrust law problem.


Once these proposals are enacted, the United States' economy will flourish again. The public will win by getting lower fares such as in the District of Columbia.




American Association For Taxi Cabs (AATC) staff's writer


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







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