Some taxi cab drivers suing city to make more taxi licenses available

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Should there be more taxi cabs on the streets of Milwaukee? Some drivers say absolutely not, saying there's just not enough business. At the same time, some of their peers are suing the city to make more taxi licenses available.

A taxi driver for the last 40 years, Bennie Lewis says he would worry for his livelihood if Milwaukee made more permits available to cab drivers.

"It's too hard to make a living. There's just not enough.  There's not enough business," Lewis said.

Milwaukee has a cap on the number of cab permits available to drivers.

Alderman Bauman says right now, that number is around 320. Bauman has proposed an ordinance to phase in 100 new permits over five years.

"This way I figure it will be little more of a phase in, so you're not dumping a huge quantity of new licenses on the marketplace all at once which could be disruptive," Alderman Bauman said.

Mohamed Abdelrahim's father is a former cab driver. He says more permits would mean more opportunities for people to earn a living.

"It's like affecting the lives of hundreds of drivers," Abdelrahim said.

Abdelrahim says the current law gives too much power to those who own the cabs and possess the permits. He says his father used to rent his cab from an independent owner, but lost it after he spoke out in favor of eliminating the permit cap.

"I feel like they need to ammend this cab system. They need to fix it. They need to protect these drivers and it can't just be strictly the owners," Abdelrahim said.

Red Christensen is with the Wisconsin Association of Taxi Cab Owners. He says there isn't enough business in Milwaukee to support more permits.

"Maybe we could use more cabs on New Year's Eve or maybe during Summerfest sometimes but really there's no major demand for cabs," Christensen said.

He says 30 cabs are available now, but there aren't enough drivers.

"If there's a demand for cabs obviously the market would see it as such," Christensen said.