Reported By Dennis Ferrier
The cost to ride in some limos has nearly doubled in Nashville, and drivers say it's because the city is forcing them to jack up their prices. They're now suing to stop it.
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The Metro Livery limousine service wants to give a $25 ride to the airport. Metro's Transportation Licensing Committee said it can't do that, that it has to charge $45.
Ali Bokhari, who owns Metro Livery, has a business model: limos, car service and a Hummer limo at deeply discounted rates. It has helped him build up to 35 automobiles in just six years. But Metro Nashville said he can't offer discounts anymore, that his minimum rate must be $45.
"Our prices are comparable and very close to taxi prices, and it's cost-effective, and everybody (can) afford it," Bokhari said.
The Institute for Justice said this Metro law violates the federal constitution, and that it's like telling all grocery stores they must charge the same prices for groceries.
"Metro Nashville is driving up transportation prices for no benefit to public health or safety," said Wesley Hottot of the Institute for Justice. "They're infringing on our client's economic liberty. ... It's not just wrong; it's unconstitutional."
Two other limo services have joined Metro Livery in this federal lawsuit
"Because of problems with illegal taxi services, we want to make sure we differentiate the services between taxi cabs and livery services," said the Transportation Licensing Committee in a statement. "We can use one or two measures: One is strict prearrangement, and another is minimum rate."
The three discount limo companies said they want to know why there should be a differentiation. It asked if the committee is for a few businesses or for the thousands of customers.
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