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(Prefiled by the sponsor(s))
Jan 4, 2000-introduced in Senate
Jan 5, 2000-to Transportation (S)
Both situations are perpetuated by a state law that protects monopolies on cab services and stifles competition. The law, which dates to the 1930s, is cumbersome and out-of-step with the current climate to deregulate businesses and give them more rein.
State Sen. Ernesto Scorsone, D-Lexington, is sponsoring a bill that, as amended, could lower some of the state-imposed barriers to new cab companies and ones that want to expand. The bill ran into some opposition last week from rural members of the Senate Transportation Committee, and, not surprisingly, from existing cab companies, but that shouldn't deter legislators from at least giving Lexington and Louisville more autonomy and lessening the state's regulatory power over taxis.
Consumers in both cities have chronic complaints about the poor quality of cab service. The companies don't respond promptly or at all; the cabs and drivers are dirty; they have refused to answer calls in certain parts of the cities.
In Lexington, not only does just one company own all of the cab services but also the city sets no limit on rates.
The state law, as it is now written, doesn't serve consumers. Getting a competing taxi license is like trying to drive an obstacle course backward.
Ask Terry Curry of Nicholasville, who has spent thousands of dollars on legal fees and tried for five years to get a state license to compete with United Transportation, which continues to have a lock on cab service in Lexington.
Ask Bill White of Louisville, who has so far spent a year in the hearing process to add one cab to his tiny company.
Most states no longer control the cab market and have nothing close to Kentucky's convoluted law.
Government has a legitimate interest in regulating cabs to some extent: that they are safely operated and maintained, that rates and service are fair, that owners and drivers are legitimate. But when a government, for all practical purposes, gives an exclusive right to a company, it should be strictly limited to utilities, such as water or electricity. Surely, Lexington is big enough by now to support more than one cab company.
It's time for Kentucky to revamp its taxi law and give greater competition a try.
The goal of Senate Bill 5 is to eliminate cab monopolies and introduce more competition into taxi markets, especially in Lexington and Louisville, said Sen. Ernesto Scorsone, D-Lexington, who sponsored the bill.
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