no cabs for you

This act requires explanation:

The Metro Transportation Licensing Commission today denied a series of requests that would have boosted the number of taxicabs buzzing around Nashville by 50 percent.

I am having trouble thinking of a reason why this is a good idea. It hardly makes sense in the context of decreasing Nashville’s automobile dependency — more cabs on the road means less cars congesting downtown in general, particularly with parking. Taxi cabs are a part of a good transportation system, not a competitor to it.

The Tennesseean article only offers as justification a quote from a taxi driver saying he’s glad because it means less competition. While this wouldn’t exactly be the first time a government made a bad decision to eliminate competition in the market, I have a hard time believing that metro is looking out for the almighty taxicab lobby in Nashville.

So what’s the deal here? It’s ridiculously hard to get a cab in Nashville. I have been stranded without recourse more times than I can remember in Nashville: taking a cab from point A to point B only to have to offer to sell my firstborn to get a cab back out to point B to pick me up. It’s ridiculous.

Roger Abramson weighs in:

… I am not sure I would voted for the permits in this case, for one simple reason: We only have one taxicab inspector who gets paid the same regardless of how many taxicabs are out there. He’s already orverworked and underpaid, and everytime we’ve asked the council for a little more money for inspectors, we have always been rebuffed. Unless that situation gets rectified somehow, you may never see another substantial increase in permits.

Of course, this all presupposes that we even should be regulating taxicabs in the first place. Perhaps that’s the real conversation to have.

No doubt.

2 Comments so far

  1. Andrew (unregistered) on November 29th, 2006 @ 9:00 am

    Couldn’t agree with you more. In fact, I just logged on with the intention of blogging about this very development. The justification I’ve heard floating around is that the city only has one inspector for all its taxicabs. Which begs the question: Couldn’t they have hired another inspector with all the additional permit fees coming in?

  2. Mister Nashville (unregistered) on November 30th, 2006 @ 6:01 am

    While it might not be super easy to just walk out and get a cab anywhere in Nashville, I usually don’t have trouble getting one. I have two different drivers’ numbers saved in my phone so that I can get one when the other isn’t working.

    I asked one of the guys last night what he thought. He said that most of the existing drivers don’t want more licenses issued. I’m not sure if that reasoning is because of greed… or because of need. I don’t monitor their business so I can’t make an educated guess.

    Personally, I would rather see added routes to MTA and extended hours of service than see an increase in expensive cabs. Bus routes offer very limited service in the later hours. While the Music City Star is a great addition for those folks in Mt. Juliet and Lebanon, it will be some time before it is any benefit to the passenger who isn’t a downtown 9-5er.

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