Heavily regulated Boston cab owners last week filed a federal lawsuit against city and state regulators they charge have put them at a competitive disadvantage by letting Uber, Lyft and similar concerns steal their business.
In their lawsuit, filed in US District Court, the Boston Taxi Owners Association and two individual medallion owners charge the city is ruining their investments in expensive medallions by letting ride-share or "transportation network companies" pick up passengers for hire without any similar investment.
Medallion owners have to comply with expensive safety, licensing and insurance regulations, while any jamoke with a car - even one with a potential criminal background - can pick up fares through these competitors, the suit says, charging this violates the equal-protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
And don't even get the cab owners started on a regulation proposed by outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick, which they say would deprive them of their rights under the due-process clause by essentially eliminating a cap on medallions, thereby "irrationally destroying" the value of those medallions.
The current version of Rule 403 [the city rule regulating medallion cabs] is the product of decades of revisions, designed to protect consumers, ensure public safety, safeguard competition and provide non-discriminatory taxi services to all areas of the city and to the elderly and disabled. The plaintiffs and all medallion owners operating in Boston have invested significant capital and resources to develop systems of infrastructure that meet Rule 403's broad ranging requirements. ...
[T]he City requires taxi owners to pay large sums for the "exclusive" license to engage in the business of For-Hire Transportation. For decades, taxi owners accepted these burdens and expenses as part of a quid pro quo with the city for the exclusive rights granted. The City promised, in return, that taxi owners, and the taxi affiliations and drivers who operate taxis, would have the exclusive right to provide For-Hire Transportation to individual passengers. In reliance on the City's decades-long promise of exclusivity, taxi owners have invested hundreds of millions of dollars.