Georgia Supreme Court Rules Taxis Must Compete With Uber, Have No Right To An "Unalterable Monopoly"

The Georgia Supreme Court became the latest court to reject a demand for a bailout by the taxi industry when it unanimously upheld a state law that permits ridesharing companies, like Uber and Lyft.  The case centered on Atlanta’s taxi medallion system, which requires a medallion or “certificate of public necessity and convenience” (CPNC) to legally operate a cab.

More than two decades ago, Atlanta capped the number of taxis at 1,600. But demand outstripped supply, forcing medallion prices to soar, reaching as much as $80,000 in a secondary market in recent years. Those unable to afford their own medallion reportedly have to pay $500 a month to rent a CPNC. (Compared with other cities though, Atlanta’s medallions were a bargain: One medallion in Chicago fetched almost $360,000, while in New York City, medallions once sold for $1 million apiece.)

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

But those peaks began to fall, thanks to greater competition from Uber and Lyft. In order to free ridesharing companies on the state level, and to preempt many local (and burdensome) ordinances, Georgia lawmakers overwhelmingly approved HB 225 back in 2015. Although the reform banned cities and counties from creating new medallion systems, it did leave existing medallion programs in place.

Able to operate more freely, ridesharing has quickly overtaken traditional cabs. For instance, in the first few months after Atlanta allowed Uber and Lyft to pick up riders at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the two companies transported over 250,000 passengers—more than twice as many riders that taxis picked up.

Drivers also seem to prefer ridesharing. According to the Brookings Institution, the ground transportation industry added almost 3,000 jobs in the “gig economy,” a rise by 64.5 percent. In contrast, payroll employment fell by 4.2 percent, during the same period, from 2012 to 2014.

Meanwhile, in a trend that mirrors other cities, taxi medallion value has now plummeted to under $10,000 in Atlanta. But instead of trying to innovate or offer a better service to their customers, several taxi drivers took the state to court.

Article source: Supreme Court

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