Ohio Town Strikes Blow For Taxi Freedom

Matt Powers
Matt Powers · July 21, 2015

Arlington, Va.—Last night, the Bowling Green (Ohio) City Council handed a major victory to consumers and entrepreneurs by repealing a law that had limited the number of taxis allowed in the city to only 16. The repeal comes less than two months after the Institute for Justice (IJ) filed a lawsuit on behalf of Green Cab, an Athens, Ohio-based business that wanted to expand its innovative taxi service to Bowling Green but had found itself stymied by the city’s cap.

“This is a major victory for taxi freedom in Ohio,” said IJ Attorney Meagan Forbes. “More cities should follow Bowling Green’s lead and repeal these outdated taxi caps—without waiting for a lawsuit. It should not take a team of lawyers to start a taxi business.”

Green Cab had originally sought to open in Bowling Green after achieving rapid success with its low-cost, technology-driven business in Athens. Like Bowling Green, Athens is a small college town that had previously had limited transportation options. But unlike Bowling Green (and many cities in Ohio and nationwide), Athens did not impose artificial limits on the number of taxi businesses allowed to operate. That regulatory difference resulted in a thriving taxi industry in Athens while far too many Bowling Green passengers were left out in the cold.

Within days of the filing of IJ’s lawsuit, Bowling Green officials acknowledged that the taxi cap was outdated and took steps to repeal the law. Last night’s vote removed the cap once and for all, and Green Cab is now in the process of securing commercial space in the city with plans to have vehicles on the street soon.

“Today is an exciting day for consumers and entrepreneurs,” said Green Cab owner John Rinaldi. “The city’s old system favored certain businesses at everyone else’s expense. I am happy to now have the opportunity to bring Green Cab’s service to Bowling Green.”

For more than 20 years, the Institute for Justice has helped break down barriers to transportation innovation in cities across America, including Denver, New York City, Milwaukee, Las Vegas, and Minneapolis. The latest victory in Bowling Green represents increasing momentum towards the elimination of outdated and protectionist taxi regulations nationwide.

“The transportation industry should be the perfect opportunity for grassroots entrepreneurs because it does not require large amounts of formal education or start-up capital,” explained IJ Senior Attorney Robert McNamara. “Unfortunately, in too many places, that entrepreneurship is still being blocked by outdated laws that do nothing but protect established businesses from competition. Consumers and entrepreneurs deserve better, and we intend to see that they get it.”

Founded in 1991, the Institute for Justice is the national law firm for liberty. For more information on the lawsuit to open Bowling Green’s taxi market, visit www.ij.org/bowling-green-taxis.