Prepared by: INSTITUTE FOR JUSTICE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 30, 2012
CONTACT: Shira Rawlinson, (703) 682-9320 ext. 229
Nashville Conducts Sting Operation to Punish Car Service for Charging Too Little
Arlington, Va.—On Friday night, in a blatant attempt to protect high-end limousine companies from honest competition, inspectors from Nashville’s Metropolitan Transportation Licensing Commission (MTLC) conducted a sting operation against Metro Livery, an affordable limousine and town car service that is currently suing Nashville in federal court.
Metro Livery’s crime? Charging its customers less than the government-mandated $45 minimum fare.
Friday’s sting operation is the first of its kind. No other business has been cited for violating the minimum fare.
An MTLC inspector, posing as a customer, called Metro Livery for a ride from Nashville’s Preston Hotel to Broadway Friday night. When the inspector was charged $25 for the trip, another inspector arrived and fined the driver $104 for violating Nashville’s minimum fare regulation, informing him that Metro Livery would receive its own citation in the mail. The man posing as a customer then left without paying for the trip.
“Government officials should be fighting crime, not punishing my company for suing the city,” said Ali Bokhari, the owner of Metro Livery and a plaintiff in the company’s lawsuit against Nashville.
The sting operation comes just a week after a federal judge denied Nashville’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Metro Livery and two other affordable car services. Their lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of Nashville’s new limousine and town car regulations, including the $45 minimum fare.
“This is a sad example of the government bullying one business just to protect another business from competition,” said Wesley Hottot, an attorney with the Institute for Justice and the lead lawyer in the case against Nashville. “The $45 minimum fare does nothing to make your trip in a limo or town car any safer. It was passed into law only because Nashville’s expensive limousine companies wanted to put their affordable competition out of business and the Metro Council agreed to help them. That isn’t just wrong. It’s unconstitutional.”
The regulations, passed by Nashville’s Metropolitan County Council in June 2010, were largely designed (and in some cases written) by the Tennessee Livery Association—a trade group formed to represent the interests of high-end limousine companies. The $45 minimum fare was the Association’s idea. In addition, limousine and town car companies are now required to dispatch only from their places of business, they are prohibited from leasing new vehicles and they have to take all vehicles off the road if they are more than seven years old for a sedan or SUV or more than ten years old for a limousine. These regulations threaten to put Nashville’s affordable car services out of business, and they are driving up the cost of car service by 80 percent or more.
“We are not going to give into this kind of intimidation,” continued Bokhari. “It is my right to charge my customers as little as I wish; the government’s right to regulate my business begins and ends with the safety of my vehicles and my drivers.”
Comments are closed.