Taxi companies say the profits they make when the government restricts other transportation options are a property right, and they're suing for taxpayer compensation when competition from Uber, Lyft, and other ride-sharing companies hits them in the wallet.
In most cities, taxis are regulated by a crony scheme that limits the number of taxis. Cab companies make more money because of the lack of competition, but they have to pay a pretty penny for the ability to operate: hundreds of thousands of dollars per transferable permit in most major cities, and up to $1 million in New York City.
Customers bear the burden via higher fares and crappy service, which is why apps like Uber are so popular. But taxi companies complain that if cities allow those services to enter the market, their licenses lose value. This, they argue, is a "taking" under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.
Judges in New York and Chicago did not buy this argument, but the taxi companies have appealed. Meanwhile, fresh lawsuits seeking taxpayer compensation have been launched in Milwaukee and Miami.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Taxi Takings?".