Changes Needed For The Taxi Board

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Chattanooga Taxi Board in its current form needs to be changed, if not done away with altogether. The current headline involving the councilmen and a current operator are yet another example of the problem.  

The way the current system works is a person has to have what is called a "privilege" to operate.  A company has to be granted a certain number of privileges in order to operate under  a "Stand" (or company).  The only way to get the number of privileges you need is to go before the board. The board is heavily influenced by the biggest operators in the city who in turn make their recommendations as to the applicant’s rejection or approval. Historically, most applications that have been submitted have also been denied.  While single privileges are sometimes granted, application for enough privileges to operate as a new company have typically also been denied. 

To make matters worse, one needs to know what happens when the board grants a single privilege.  A person who is granted a single privilege has to operate under an established “Stand.”  The large stand owners charge fees for operating under their name.  Thus the large owners are able to protect their market both by controlling (limiting) the number of “Stand” applications and by also by getting fees from the few single privilege operators. This seemingly creates a huge conflict of interest and I can’t help but wonder if it is why the large owners are so protective of the board.

Apply it to another business. Lets say someone meets all the requirements for a license to open a restaurant in our city. After meeting the requirements, a restaurant board - heavily controlled by the largest restaurant owners in the city - denies the licenses because they feel there are already too many restaurants. Making it worse, if one applied the single privilege concept to the food service industry, the large restaurants would only allow the small restaurants to operate with the large restaurants branding and only after the smaller guys paid the large restaurants a fee. If that happened, there would be outrage and law suits galore. This is what happens when anyone in Chattanooga attempts to gain privileges for a "Taxi Stand" in the city of Chattanooga.

The city has every right to come up with standards, fees inspections, whatever it needs to make sure the public is safely transported. What it should not do is be in the business of denying free market competition. It is my feeling that the current board unfairly protects those that are already in business. 

The big taxi stand operators will deny and deflect this criticism saying they are just protecting the customer. This is true but only to the extent that they are indeed protecting someone but not their intended target. Instead they are protecting - with the city's help  - the bottom line for a select group of companies by denying competition. 

James Blevins


Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. There is no word limit, but if your article is too long you may lose your reader. Please focus more on issues than personal attacks. (click for more)

Let's Honor Luther

I would like to challenge the city.  There are two ways we could honor Luther.  Build a new facility for the Humane Society and name it after Luther.  Then we should create an academy for young people in the city to teach them how to be like Luther, learn to be of service to your fellow man. What about it Chattanooga?  Karen Dale Hixson (click for more)

Man Shot At Apartments On Tunnel Boulevard Wednesday Afternoon, Then 2 Juveniles Shot At Rec Center On Oakwood Drive With Suspects In Custody

Chattanooga police officers responded to the apartment buildings at 404 Tunnel Blvd. Wednesday at 1:21 p.m., where residents say they heard multiple shots fired.  Witnesses said they saw multiple suspects fleeing the scene on foot behind the complex.  The male victim was taken to a local hospital for life threatening gunshot wounds.  Later Wednesday, ... (click for more)

Several Arrested Outside Erlanger Hospital When Crowd Gathers After Woodlawn Shooting

Several people were arrested Monday night outside Erlanger Hospital after a crowd gathered and clashed with police. The crowd included family and friends of 20-year-old Apprentice Berry, who was shot multiple times and killed earlier Monday night at the Woodlawn Apartments on Wilson Street. Erlanger officials said the group gathered at the emergency room, but were later moved ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Falls In State Volleyball Semis

SMYRNA, Tenn. – It’s a good thing that Signal Mountain volleyball coach Jennifer Redman is a young lady because her heart might not be able to stand the pressure if she wasn’t. Redman’s Lady Eagles were thisclose to being sent to the loser’s bracket in the opening round of the State Volleyball Tournament here at Stewarts Creek High School Wednesday afternoon. Had it been a ... (click for more)

Boyd-Buchanan Sweeps Loretto To Open Class A State Volleyball

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Playing what coach Alfie Dodd called a sub-par match, Boyd-Buchanan’s Lady Bucs were still good enough to sweep Loretto, 3-0, Wednesday morning in the opening match of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s Class A state volleyball tournament at Blackman High School. Set scores were 25-19, 25-14, 25-20. “We advance and we know we can ... (click for more)