Judge upholds $45 minimum fare for 'affordable' car services

Wednesday, April 11, 2012 at 1:03pm

“Affordable car service” companies in Nashville will have to abide by a $45 minimum fare ordinance — and its enforcement — for the time being after a federal judge struck down an injunction request on Monday.

Metro Livery, which provides cut-rate sedan rides, asked U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp to halt the Metro Transportation Licensing Commission from enforcing the ordinance, claiming it unfairly limited its business.

Sharp ruled Monday that the process by which the ordinance was passed was legal and that “ ‘even foolish and misdirected provisions are generally valid’ under the rational basis standard of review.”

Sharp also mentions in his memorandum that lower fares would “undoubtedly” benefit Nashville citizens and tourists, but that it’s up to the Metro Council to make those determinations.

Metro Livery is currently challenging the $45 minimum fare ordinance in federal court, claiming it is unfair “economic protectionism” for cab companies. Attorney Wesley Hottot, who works for the Institute for Justice based out of Seattle, said Sharp's ruling was a “set-back, but only a preliminary set-back.”

“Judge Sharp emphasized that this is a preliminary ruling and indicated that if there were more evidence available to him that he might be willing to strike down the minimum fare,” Hottot said.

“This motion was an emergency motion ... as a result of that, we did not have all of the evidence Judge Sharp felt he needed to put a stop to this law while we continue toward trail,” Hottot added. “We expect that we will be able to put on that evidence at trial and ultimately win this case.”

6 Comments on this post:

By: Jughead on 4/11/12 at 3:08

Ride a bike instead.

By: Ask01 on 4/12/12 at 2:13

I can understand rules and directives dealing with public safety.

However, a law which dictates the minimum a private business can charge for services seems to fly in the face of free enterprise and enteprenuership.

Silly old person I am, I guess I always believed such was the fuel driving the American system. Offer a product at a lower price as good as or better than the competition and let the public decide have a (gasp) choice.

This could not possibly be politically motivated to protect favored goups or perhaps individuals income sources. That would seem unethical, and I am certain (snicker snicker) no one in local government would ever allow such self serving legislation to stand.

On the other hand, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck.........

By: MrT on 4/12/12 at 6:52

I wonder if that law applies to businesses located outside of Nashville? I bet Sumner, Wilson and Williamson would love to have them relocate their operation while still serving downtown. Anti-competitive legislation like this just forces businesses to avoid Davidson. Short sighted government strikes again!

By: JeffF on 4/12/12 at 1:51

On the same day the government sues book publishers and Apple for price fixing, the Nashville government is allowed to price fix to its heart's desire.

By: govskeptic on 4/13/12 at 7:53

Both Metro and the State are always talking business, but competition is
a no-no when it comes to better service and prices for the consumers!
The Lobbying groups with the biggest budgets always win! Public be damned!

By: nashmusic2244 on 4/13/12 at 12:02

I agree with MrT!

Metro gov't ONCE AGAIN interfering with a private business that has SERVED the community with HIGH praise and exemplary service.
Consumers HAVE the right to CHOOSE whether I ride a cab or a sedan and the market sets the price!
What about Metro gov't doing NOTHING about the lack of safety standards of cab drivers?
Have we EVER read a passenger or fare being raped by a Metro Livery driver? No!
But we have read about several cab drivers taking their fares behind buildings and raping young, innocent women.
Another short-sighted attempt by Metro gov't (Karl Dean) to oust good businesses from Nashville and this should be stopped!!
Eddie Garcia