Friday, August 9, 2013

Could Milwaukee County Take Over Taxicab Regulations?

Here's an interesting proposal from two Milwaukee County Supervisors:
Milwaukee County Supervisors John Weishan Jr. and Russell Stamper II today unveiled a draft resolution directing County Executive Chris Abele to negotiate an Intergovernmental agreement between the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County for the operation and regulation of taxicab service.

Weishan, co-chairman of the County Board’s Transportation, Public Works and Transit Committee, said the measure was designed to lower costs of taxicab service while increasing service, especially in under-served areas.

“This draft resolution is meant to get a discussion started over taxicab service not only in the City of Milwaukee, but in all of Milwaukee County,” Weishan said. “We believe that through inter-governmental cooperation we can better serve the public, increase the availability of taxicabs and cut costs.”

On April 16, a Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge ruled that the City of Milwaukee’s taxicab ordinance, which set a cap on taxicab permits, violated the State’s constitution. The Judge Jane Carroll said that limits on the number of taxicabs was arbitrary, anti-competitive and unconstitutional. On April 25, the County Board adopted a resolution supporting a City of Milwaukee’s Common Council measure seeking to repeal the city’s cap on issuing new taxicab permits. Abele signed the County Board resolution on May 2.

Under Weishan and Stamper’s proposal, all operation and regulation of taxicab services would be transferred to the County. A negotiating team from the County would work with the City to develop more innovative regulations governing taxicab operations.

“This is a natural addition to intermodal coordination county-wide,” Stamper said. “It will help to increase competition and lower costs to the consumer. It will enhance the quality of service and help to serve areas where service is unavailable or difficult to obtain.”

Under the resolution, negotiations between the City and County would be completed by Dec. 31, 2013, and would be implemented by June 1, 2014.
I'm not too sure about this. It makes a certain amount of sense in that the taxis are not restricted to just one city, so this would lower the taxi companies' costs by having to only deal with one regulating agency instead of nineteen of them. That in turn should lower fare costs.

On the other hand, now that the control of such regulation would be in the hands of the inept and corrupt Chris Abele, I could see him giving special considerations to his old pal, State Representative Joe Sanfelippo, who helped him usurp control of the county.  Sanfelippo's family already controls all but a monopoly of the county's taxicab business, which is one of the reasons fares are as high as they are.

As with so many things in Milwaukee County over the past several years, even the best ideas and intentions get ruined because of a corrupt county executive.


  1. If Abele and Sanfelippo are put in charge, they might establish a separate class of commercial licenses, for rickshaw service.

    People applying for food stamp benefits would be required to peddle a certain number of hours in order to qualify for nutrition assistance. (Physically challenged or disabled or just really old and worn out -- it wouldn't matter.)

    In doing so the City (or County's) control over taxi cab permits would be less "anti-competitive."

    Enabling the Sanfelippo family to continue to dominate the actual taxi business in town.

  2. I'm still waiting for the Board of Supervisors to remove the taxicab limit at the airport. One of those recently sold for $60,000.