New Lawsuit Seeks to End Colorado’s Transportation Monopoly Law

Matt Powers
Matt Powers · March 9, 2021

Arlington, Va.—Abdallah Batayneh just wants to start a new shuttle service in Steamboat Springs, but Colorado law allows existing transportation companies to veto new businesses in their regions. Today, in order to clear the way for himself and other entrepreneurs in Colorado, Abdallah is partnering with the Institute for Justice (IJ) in a lawsuit to put an end to this unconstitutional law.

Abdallah came to America to build a better life for himself and his family. He currently manages his own cleaning service and works at a beautiful mountain resort. He heard many complaints about the two existing shuttle services. So, Abdallah decided to start his own shuttle service to improve access to transportation in his community.

Unfortunately, he quickly hit a roadblock. As required, he applied to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for permission to start his shuttle service. Under Colorado law, existing transportation companies are given the power to object to new transportation businesses and ban them from operating in their region. That is just what happened to Abdallah. Even though the PUC determined he was “operationally, managerially, and financially qualified” to operate his proposed shuttle service, he was banned from operating because the two existing shuttle services objected.

“I’m just pursuing my American Dream and simply wanted the chance to compete,” said Abdallah. “I should be encouraged—not blocked by government officials who are more interested in protecting a cartel of connected insiders.”

“The government admits Abdallah is qualified and has the experience necessary to run a safe, affordable, shuttle company,” said IJ Attorney Will Aronin. “But, because the cartel said no, the government banned him from starting his business. That’s not just wrong. It’s unconstitutional.”

IJ has been challenging laws protecting transportation cartels and monopolies for over 25 years. In 1993, IJ’s constitutional challenge to Denver’s taxi cartel spurred the Colorado Legislature to change the law, dramatically improving transportation throughout the city. Even then, IJ successfully sued again to enforce the improved law after the PUC refused to abide by it. And IJ’s litigation on behalf of transportation entrepreneurs has eliminated other anticompetitive restrictions nationwide, including in Bowling Green, Chicago, Las Vegas, Little Rock, Milwaukee, Nashville, New York, and San Diego. Now, Abdallah and IJ are teaming up to build on IJ’s success in Denver and eliminate transportation monopolies throughout Colorado.

“Restrictions like these hurt customers, the community and local businesses,” said IJ Senior Attorney Justin Pearson. “It’s not the government’s job to pick winners and losers in the marketplace. That right belongs to consumers.”