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


Roy Exum: One Nameless Ghost

One hundred years ago the United States was at war. The most intense fighting during World War I was on what was called The Western Front. The Germans wanted to invade France from the north and in order to do it, they had to push through Flanders province in Belgium. It has been described as a hell unequalled in raw hand-to-hand combat, In just four months on Flanders fields, ... (click for more)

Remembering Mitch Beard On Memorial Day

A little over two years ago, my friend Mitchell "Mitch" Beard passed away from injuries he sustained in a motorcycle accident at 24 years old. This was not as it should be. Mitch had made it through war. He was a combat-decorated United States Marine who served in Afghanistan. I first met Mitch when I was a college student at Tennessee Temple in 2004. Mitch’s parents, Steve ... (click for more)

Strong Thunderstorm Causes Damage, Power Outages In Dalton

Shortly before  5 p.m. , a strong thunderstorm went through downtown Dalton, knocking down numerous trees, causing power outages and also causing damage. At this time, no injuries have been reported.  The Dalton Fire Department and Dalton Police Department responded to multiple reports of damage. The DPD closed several roads due to downed trees and power lines. ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Honors Military Veterans

A Memorial Day service was held at the National Cemetery on Monday. (click for more)

Seth Ruhling Wins Chattanooga Chase 8K And One Mile

It has been six years since Seth Ruhling ran the Chattanooga Chase and maybe he had forgotten just how tough that 8K course really is, but that’s didn’t seem to matter Monday morning as he celebrated Memorial Day with victory in the Chattanooga Track Club’s oldest race. Ruhling graduated from Collegedale Academy in 2013 and is now a 21-year-old student at Southern Adventist ... (click for more)

Tennessee-Georgia All-Star Football Classic Set For Saturday at CCS

The 13th Annual Tennessee-Georgia All-Star Football Classic, presented by Great Clips, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday June 4 at Chattanooga Christian School in Chattanooga. Tennessee defeated Georgia 38-14 last June at McCallie School in Chattanooga. It was Tennessee's fourth consecutive victory in the series that dates back to the first game held at Ridgeland High in ... (click for more)