Thursday, February 2, 2012

Local cab drivers sue over permit regulations

Posted By on Thu, Feb 2, 2012 at 3:15 PM

Attorney Mark Goodman says that cab drivers arent being treated fairly.
  • Lawyer Mark Goodman, right, says cab drivers aren't being treated fairly.
Kansas City’s taxi drivers say they’re being screwed by the companies that own city-issued cab permits. This week, the Kansas City Taxi Cab Drivers Association LLC, a group representing 250 cab drivers, sued the city over the way it issues permits. The suit states that nine Kansas City, Missouri, cab companies own all 547 permits that have been issued, which gives them “fiefdom-like control on the Kansas City taxicab market.”

Dozens of drivers rallied today near the federal courthouse downtown to draw attention to their case and what they say is an unfair business model. The permit owners lease their cars and permits to the drivers, who act as independent contractors with no benefits or stability. Furthermore, the drivers say, they have to buy their own gas and cover the costs of operating the taxi. The drivers say the fees end up costing most of their income. Mark Goodman, the drivers’ St. Louis-based attorney, told reporters today that the arrangement makes Kansas City’s taxi drivers "subsistence workers."

City ordinance caps the number of permits issued at 500. In order to get down to that number from 547, forfeited and surrendered permits will not be renewed. The suit says the nine cab companies pay the city $164,000 each year to renew the permits, and the drivers then pay the companies $6.4 million in leasing fees.

The drivers’ lawsuit seeks a court order blocking the ordinance from being enforced. If the drivers are successful, the local taxi industry could more closely resemble St. Louis’, which allows independent taxi operators and distinguishes between airport-exclusive taxis and on-call services that pick up customers at other locations.

After the jump, see a table that Goodman says breaks down how much companies earn by leasing their permits.

Cab_Lease_Income.jpg

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