Taxicabs in Milwaukee

Cite this Article
Larry Ribstein, Taxicabs in Milwaukee, Truth on the Market (September 28, 2011),

I’ve often discussed the wonderful world of professional licensing beyond lawyers and its perverse effects on entrepreneurship.  The posts have covered licensing of witches, horse teeth floaters, cat groomers, and tour guides.  Here’s a story about taxicabs.

Milwaukee allows 321 taxicabs. Almost half the licenses are owned by one person.  The Institute for Justice has sued, alleging that the limitation is unconstitutional on due process and equal protection grounds.  The suit notes, among other things, that the ratio in Milwaukee is one for every 1,850 residents, compared to one per 935 residents in Seattle, one per 550 in Minneapolis and one per 480 residents in Denver.  It argues that “the artificial scarcity of cabs harms Milwaukee citizens and visitors through limiting competition in the taxicab industry and creating inferior customer service – including longer wait times for cabs and a lack of available cabs in modest and minority neighborhoods.” The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has the story, and IJ has a video.