Thursday, January 7, 2016

Jackson cab drivers: Ripped off by everyone. (Bigger Pie Forum post)

Shad Denson wanted to start his own taxi company, but the bizarre regulations in Jackson, Mississippi, kept him from that.

But he isn’t giving up, holding out hope new regulations governing networked ride services Uber and Lyft present an opportunity for the City Council to consider overhauling regulations governing taxis.

Denson bought office space, which cost $12,000 for a year, before even applying for a license, in full compliance with the regulations. He got the appropriate insurance coverage and provided a statement of his net worth, again, in compliance with the regulations.

But the city didn’t consider his application, so he drives as an independent, employed by one of the city’s three cab companies that have a regulated monopoly over the taxi industry. He has to pay a fee to a cab company to continue serving customers. He gets little in return, with the exception of staying in business.

“As an independent taxi driver operating in Jackson, I’m nothing more than a sharecropper,” Denson said. “I’ve been run from companies because I made too much money. The ownership of the cab companies have been able to get away with whatever they want for at least 25 years.”

Changes to the taxi ordinance will be considered, council president Melvin Priester Jr. said at a meeting of the rules committee Nov. 30.

“The thrust of this was to do something for the Ubers and then do something for the taxi ordinance, because it needs to be cleaned up,” Priester Jr. said at the meeting. (KF note: Yes, Melvin. It needs to be cleaned up as in abolished.)

The Jackson City Council will govern taxi services and networked ride providers with separate regulations. The council will vote on the proposed Uber ordinance at a meeting Tuesday night. The ordinance would force Uber and other similar services to pay a $5,000 registration fee and a $2,500 annual operation fee.

Uber has threatened to leave Jackson if the council passes the ordinance.

Companies such as Uber and Lyft — which use mobile apps to summon and pay for rides — would undergo an application process, provide minimal insurance and allow the city the right to revoke a permit or suspend the licenses of individual drivers.

When it comes to cleaning up Jackson’s now 15-year-old taxi regulations, the council may need some heavy-duty soap. To get a license to start a cab company in the city, one must have at least eight cabs, with at least four of housed in the city limits, and provide the transportation permit and review committee with a statement of net worth. If a company has 10 or more cabs, all must be housed in garages within city limits. A cab company must have someone available 24 hours to answer service calls.

With at least two representatives of the city’s five taxi companies sitting on the primary licensing board in Jackson, the chances of a new company entering the fray are nil.

“Say, for example, I’m Walgreens, and I want to open up a store right across the street from a CVS,” Denson said. “Imagine I had to ask CVS for their permission. It’s not going to happen.”

The city determines the pricing structure, mandates vehicle inspections, drug tests and even a dress code for drivers. According to a Mississippi Watchdog review of other cities’ regulations on taxis, Jackson’s prove the most restrictive.

Councilman Ashby Foote told Mississippi Watchdog the city of Jackson needs to get its ordinance right when it comes to network transportation providers.

“This is a real great opportunity to make great first impressions on people when they fly into the city and when they use their Uber app, and they expect to be able to call a ride,” Foote said. “They have the option to call a cab, but a lot of the younger folks prefer to use Uber; it’s user-friendly and comfortable for them. It’s critical we get this right.”

The Legislature will likely examine the possibility of a statewide regulation governing Uber and other networked transportation providers during its upcoming session, which starts in January.

This post was written by Steve Wilson and sponsored by Bigger Pie Forum.


KaptKangaroo said...

With City Council barking about the airport, Stokes rants, Yarber asking the State to take over infrastructure expenses and now Yarber demonstrating he wants to maintain oversight of taxi's and not provide an environment conducive to economic growth with the "new" (progressive?) economy...

Jackson is doomed. I've seen nothing that indicates anyone involved in the governing of Jackson is willing or wanting to dig itself out of the hole. This is incredibly depressing.

Anonymous said...

I'm a young person who currently resides in Jackson (for reasons I am quickly forgetting) and we use Uber a lot, as do many of our friends. Every driver has been cordial and prompt and quick to accept a ride (3-5 minute pickup every time). This is exact opposite for my experience with the taxi service since living here. It would be incredibly sad to see Uber muscled out of town simply because the taxi industry has too many friends in local "leadership". It is small problems like this, that when compounded, make it that much harder for me to justify living here.

Anonymous said...

Young Person get out of Jackson while you are still alive. There is no way under the sun that things will get better.

Anonymous said...

Jackson will never change unless the leadership changes. The leadership will never change until the voters want to see a change in their city. The voters do not want the city to change.
If you live in Jackson or have a business in Jackson a good life is waiting, just outside of the city limits.

Anonymous said...

uber just needs to grease a few palms with a couple of dollars and it will go away...

Anonymous said...

This kind of shit is why Jackson is a laughingstock, the crybabies from the taxi "services" refuse to evolve their business model and own the licensing process to limit competition. Nobody who takes a cab in Jackson gives a shit about whose family member was a civil rights figure -- they want clean, reliable and affordable SERVICE. It's not about you, its about the customer - get it?

I understand, you've all been handed control of the marketplace and competition scares the shit out of you, here's a solution - provide a competitive service! Dress code, hospitality training, vehicle inspections - are you kidding? I've never ridden in a taxi in Jackson that seemed well maintained, much less safe, and I got into a heated discussion with one driver about the length of my trip - I suppose I wasn't worth his time...

I use Uber every week, whether I'm in Jackson, or traveling and they have nearly perfected the "just in time" transportation service model. Uber drivers hustle for their work and appreciate your business while taxi drivers take offense to a fare that's not worth their time. The idea of a bunch of drivers sitting around waiting for work reminds me of the catch-it corners across the state and the whole licensing process seems like a city-government enabled hand-out.

This is an opportunity folks, get it right! If Uber leaves, you will all have demonstrated yet again what a bunch of idiots you all are.

Anonymous said...

Why not open up a taxi business in Rankin...say Richland....and then just operate in the tri county area? Start an app like uber for your first cars....expand as needed.

Anonymous said...


Someone living in Jackson that wants to work and create a business in Jackson shouldn't have to operate out of another city. And developing your own app that is comparable to Uber is extremely expensive and wouldn't be worth it for a start up.

Anonymous said...

A lot of people will be pissed if uber leaves. I would rather sit at home than call a cab in Jackson. Half the time they don't show, and when they do they take you some round about way and run up the meter. Uber is fast, clean and efficient.

Anonymous said...

My last taxi ride near Jxn was my last taxi ride near Jxn; he
arrived late and seemed uninterested in getting me to the airport timely. The car was dirty and stunk, the driver had an attitude and seemed somehow offended by my neighborhood ('rich folks here').

Anonymous said...

I travel extensively throughout the U.S. Jackson has the highest taxi rates BY FAR of any city ai have ever been to.....Including D.C., NYC, and L.A. Therre's not excuse for it.

Anonymous said...

10:53 AM

It was a solution to a problem.

And the app could probably be just a facebook page and with word of mouth...well the cabbie could have quite a niche business.

I met a cabbie and got his phone number years ago and used him every time...he was like clock work...but he had to move....miss him and his service.

Uber here is actually ok...had a guy in an old hummer pick me up and get me was fair..he was nice.....hope it stays

Anonymous said...

Do not use a Jackson taxi, especially for the mandatory pre-dawn trek to fly out (another sorry tale). They will not show! Crazy

Anonymous said...

1:43, I've had taxis not show for early flights too, even after having made a reservation and confirming it the day before. This is what happens when you have a monopoly and don't give a shit about your customers (also known as voters). Oh, and try to file a complaint...

What a great first impression to visitors of the bold new city, Jackson City Council -- ARE YOU READING THIS??

Anonymous said...

Yep, it's time to abolish the local monopoly on taxis. The drivers are a joke. Their cars say the accept Visa cards but, when you try to pay with a Visa card, they say the machine is broken and then charge you more to take you to an ATM.

I remember a ride home from F. Jones one night costing me over $60 to get to my old apartment back when I lived in Flowood. Absurd.

Anonymous said...

So glad to have so many comments from those whose knowledge is limited to having seen a taxi or ridden in one and hating Jackson.

I wish some of you who need to vent could afford a therapist.

Anonymous said...

...and the Taxi cartel speaks!

Anonymous said...

Interesting this should be considered by the 'Bigger Pie Forum', since the state of Jacktown's cabs has surely made the pie SMALLER.

My last trip in a Jackson cab was in the NINETIES. The smell of gasoline was so strong, I wondered how the car had not exploded into flames. I felt sure that if we were rear-ended, we WOULD go up in flames. There were no shoulder restraints, and people in other cars were pointing and laughing at me - all dressed up, and sitting in a hooptiecab. Apparently, it was considered odd, in FNEJ, to take a cab. I could see why.

Since then, it has not even occurred to me, to take a cab in Jackson. More business for Enterprise Rent-a-car, I suppose, and for car dealerships like Herrin Gear Lexus, who are ready with nice loaner cars, if you buy a new car from them. Multiply me by fifty thousand, or one hundred thousand people - people who avoid Jackson cabs, and the number of fares lost is surely staggering. They could double their business, if only they offered a product people didn't DREAD.

And when I'm old, and cannot avoid cabs, you can be sure I will have relocated to a place where there are viable transportation options.

And as for that mandatory pre-dawn treck out by air... That's part of the reason why so many of us would rather just drive to the airport in Kenner.

Anonymous said...

2:50 PM

My feelings exactly.

Kenner aint that far to avoid that miserable experience.

Anonymous said...

Jackson has taxis?

Anonymous said...

I smell an Institute for Justice case looming. We still have a crappy Food Truck law too.

Anonymous said...

I do not want these redneck legislators regulating Uber.

Anonymous said...

Wait until Mayor Mary finds out some of the Uber drivers are from Jackson. Regulations, they are a-coming.

Anonymous said...

2:50 pm and 3:22 pm ...ever consider that things might have changed any in 20- 25 years? Or do you still have cable?

Anonymous said...

8:44 AM, there has been quite a few changes in the last 20-25 years. The water dept has become a gang of thieves.
The streets have become goat trails.
The criminals have taken over the city.
The only difference in the cops and the crooks is the uniforms.
City council members are asking people to attack cops from other cities.
Soon Jackson will be the capital city that does not have inside plumbing.

Quite a bit of changes in the last 20-25 years.

KaptKangaroo said...

Well put 10:20AM.

Confused said...

I don't understand Uber and it's not been explained on an elementary level anywhere in this or other threads. How does it work? What are its advantages? Why do people want it?

I've seen a van parked in Madison at Kroger with a sign that indicates something like 'share a ride'. Not sure what that is or how it works.

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If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

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