Metro licensing director retires amid recommended departmental shake-up

Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 6:34pm

Metro’s Transportation Licensing Director Brian McQuistion has retired after a consultant recommended his staff be reassigned to the Metro Public Works Department.

A newly released Metro-commissioned report –– which RPM Transportation Consultants conducted –– has advised moving the staff that permit and oversee the operation of taxis, wreckers, horse-drawn carriages and other for-hire vehicles in Nashville from McQuistion’s department to public works, according to a statement from the mayor’s office on Tuesday.

“This presents me with a good opportunity to retire and devote myself to my wife and family,” McQuistion said in a statement.

A Metro Licensing worker told The City Paper Tuesday that McQuistion had already left the offices when approached for a comment. McQuistion — under fire after it was revealed his inspectors used badges to pose as police officers — had worked for Metro since 2004.

McQuistion’s likely interim replacement is Billy Fields, who currently works as the director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods. His hire is contingent upon a vote from the Metro Transportation Licensing Commission.

But the study’s recommendation is to eventually transfer the duties of the transportation-licensing department to public works, which requires future Metro Council approval. The licensing commission would remain.

“This change will result in more accountability and oversight of the [Transportation Licensing Commission] as well as provide economies of scale and sharing of staff resources that could assist the [Transportation Licensing Commission’s] staff during peak periods,” the report reads.

The study’s release comes as a handful of cab companies have asked for additional permits to either expand current operations or launch other ventures. The transportation licensing commission last winter gave conditional approval to raising Metro’s 585-permit cap by 88, but the move was contingent on funding that never materialized in Metro’s recently approved budget.

A group of Ethiopian cab drivers have proposed a company called Volunteer Taxi, which would be Nashville’s first driver-owned cab company. A group of Somali drivers, meanwhile, have proposed a similar company called Tenn-Cab.

Both business ventures require Metro raising the cap, which the study seems to support.

“The study supports the need for an increase of approximately 60 taxis primarily for peak periods,” the report reads. “The TLC’s recent conditional approval of 88 additional tax permits is more than sufficient to meet this demand and the future demand that will be generated by the new convention center.”