City proposal would end taxi cap and allow rideshare services

City of Milwaukee Alderman Robert Bauman and Common Council President Michael Murphy announced today that they will introduce new legislation Friday that would remove the existing limit on the number of taxi cab permits issued by the city and allow mobile “rideshare” taxi services, like Uber and Lyft, to operate in the city, as long as drivers possess a valid permit.

“We are dealing with new technology that has caused the marketplace to change dramatically,” Bauman said. “We need to respond to these changes in a way that allows innovation to thrive while providing for the health, safety and welfare of the public. We want to encourage more taxi usage in the city and ensure that visitors have safe and reliable taxi service, whether consumers chose traditional taxis or the new rideshare taxi services.”

Currently, the city caps the number of taxi cab permits at 420 and requires all cab drivers to belong to an affiliation that handles dispatch and training duties. Under the new legislation, the cap and affiliation requirements would be eliminated, allowing “rideshare” taxi drivers to apply for and receive public passenger vehicle permits, as well as greater numbers of “traditional” taxi drivers.

The measure would also increase the penalties for operating a public passenger vehicle without a permit. For a first offense, the penalty would rise from a minimum of $250 and maximum of $500 to a minimum of $1,500 and a maximum of $ 2,500. The penalties for a second offense within 24 months would be increased from a minimum of $500 and a maximum of $750 to a minimum of $2,500 and a maximum of $4,000, and for a third offense within 24 months, the penalties would be increased from a minimum of $750 and a maximum of $1,000 to a minimum of $3,000 and a maximum of $5,000.

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