Minneapolis 180, Boston 0

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This just in from our friends at the Institute for Justice: The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has come down with a decision that protects
a freer market for tax medallions in Minneapolis.

The Institute for Justice Minnesota Chapter intervened in the case on the side of the city of Minneapolis to defend its free-market reforms that removed a cap on the number of taxis allowed to operate within city limits. The reforms, finalized on March 30, 2007, will open the market to entrepreneurs who are fit, willing and able to serve the public, increase the number of cabs by 180 in the coming years, and eliminate completely the cap on the number of cabs in Minneapolis by 2011.

In response to the free-market and consumer-friendly reforms, the established taxicab cartel sued the city, demanding the reversal of reforms and proclaiming its owners should be able to keep the spoils of the old law that excluded new competitors from the taxi market in Minneapolis for more than 10 years.

The unanimous decision affirmed a district court’s action to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a number of taxicab operators who did not appreciate opening up the cab market. IJ notes that

In rejecting the cartel’s “takings” argument, the Court further held that the “property interest that the taxicab-license holders’ may possess does not extend to the market value of the taxicab licenses derived through the closed nature of the City’s taxicab market.”

180 new licenses in Minneapolis. 0 in Boston. The cost of a medallion is now, according to drivers I have spoken with (a non-scientific sample), well above $250,000. For many of our newest residents, it is the first step on the ladder of social mobility.