Legislative corruption and the end of the Taxi industry in Wisconsin

Content and website operations for 2018 was made possible by a donation from Robert Williams of Madison Wisconsin.


It may seem strange that nether Uber or Lyft raised any protest or so much as spoke out in public hearings over recently announced legislation to deregulate the taxi Industry in Wisconsin.

After all, the legislators presenting these bills (AB918 & SB759) Like state Assembly representative Daniel Knodl and state senator Stephen Nass have been very outspoken in claims that these bills would return a “level playing field” and “fair trade” to the state’s taxi industry.

A taxi industry that has, like many through out the US, suffered losses trying to compete with a grotesquely deregulated and statistically more deadly rideshare/TNC (Uber & Lyft) market.

These particular bills are the first of many proposed laws likely to pass in Republican controlled states through out the US in a bid to make taxis more like Rideshare/TNC companies.

In recent years there have been other taxi deregulation proposals and even a few laws passed in states like California and Michigan to deregulate taxis.  However these other laws differ greatly from the current proposals in Wisconsin.  Mainly because that unlike the currently proposed Wisconsin legislation, they comprehensively address customer safety and driver background checks while SB759 and AB918 completely throw them out the window into a lane of on coming traffic.

This is a move many taxi companies in Wisconsin do not agree with as they would no longer have accountable insurance, background checks on drivers or a fair means of competing with larger taxi companies poised to cherry pick their markets through out the state.

Under the proposed laws, Taxi companies through out Wisconsin would be forced to compete with taxi companies like Milwaukee’s TaxiMKE (American United Transportation Group) who actually desire to operate without comprehensive insurance and background checking standards for their drivers in order to save money.

Because the new laws would also eliminate any and all restrictions on where any taxi company can operate STATE WIDE, companies with large fleets like taxiMKE will be rushing into green bay on busy Green Bay Packer game nights to cherry pick street hails from the local taxi companies in that area.

In recent legislative meetings at the Wisconsin state capital, the only protests that were lodged by Uber lobbyists and their supporters with the Koch Ind lobbying front AFP (Americans For Prosperity) were in opposition to public hearings on the proposed laws.  Likely due to an abundance of evidence Ride Safe had to present concerning fraud with Uber and Lyft drivers through out Wisconsin and corruption at the DSPS (department of Safety and Professional Services).

**NOTE, the evidence presented by Ride Safe appears in the legislative documents AFTER a petition submitted by TaxiMKE administrators and their drivers in SUPPORT of the proposed legislation to deregulate taxis.**

DSPS is the state regulator currently administrating all rideshare regulation in Wisconsin AND slated to become the state’s one and ONLY Taxi regulator if the proposed legislation passes.

The reason Uber and lobbying fronts like the AFP support the establishment of state wide/no border operations, lowered vetting standards and eliminated insurance standards for the taxi industry is because it appeals to the rideshare model of doing business.

It also opens the door to a desperate attempt by Rideshare companies to take over other transportation markets as the rideshare market has been failing consistently in recent years.


Uber’s financial disasters

Uber’s CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi recently commented that the company was seeking to begin taking over bus operations in some cities.

Uber’s aspirations for the development of driverless technology, as with other developers in driverless tech have recently hit several brick walls in development that indicate the technology is neither viable or will be viable for commercial or private transportation for several years to come, likely decades.

While Uber once touted a bid for Public trading, the company has recently set the projection for going IPO (publicly traded) for much later in a more vague and uncommitted stance.

This trend with Uber has been leading a world wide failure of sutainability with the so-called “GIG” or “On Demand” economy and job market.

Other “On damend” or “GIG” ventures such as Amazon Flex, Postmates, Door Dash, GrubHub, Task Rabbit, UberEats, and AirBNB have all reported major losses and financial disasters as a result of uninsured operations, assaults on customers by poorly screened service providers and an over all lack of integrity or accountability in their business models.


Rideshare companies are also being plagued by another costly menace, THEIR OWN DRIVERS 

In recent months Ride Safe has collected several advertisements from the social net that indicate a new trend which we have dubbed “Kyotes” after the term for border smugglers.  Adding a ‘K’ in place of a ‘C’ to mimic the naming practices of “GIG” companies like Lyft.

Kyotes are Rideshare drivers who take Illegal cash hails, arrange rides and payment outside the apps and in some cases operate their own fleets of Uber and Lyft vehicles on fraudulent sublet deals with drivers who are in most cases not even registered on the app themselves but instead use the Kyote’s Uber and/or Lyft account to operate.

A growing trend with Kyotes is avoiding registration on any app all together and simply offering rides on the facebook marketplace.

A man illegally offering commercial rides to the public on facebook.


Uber driver offering illegal sublet of his vehicle. With a dash of sexual harassment.

During the Rideshare sting in Green Bay on December 23rd Ride Safe found only 1 driver out of 15 Uber and Lyft drivers asked who refused to take an illegal cash hale.


The reason Rideshare drivers have been flocking to illegal operations outside of the apps is simple.  There are to many of them saturating each market.

One among many screen captures of daily posts by Uber and Lyft drivers in all major cities reporting low earnings and no work during busy hours.


With a saturated market, drivers get far less fares per hour.  Add the issue of only being able to arrange rides through an app and no requirements for proper vetting, insurance or even vehicle marking.

Rideshare drivers aren’t just encouraged to seek out illegal work, they have been primed for it with low standards of regulation, zero required accountability, no cap on the number of vehicles operating and an already fraudulent contracting agreement which they religiously ignore even reading themselves.

Ride safe has collected interviews over the last four years with drivers who clearly indicate they are either ignorant or unwilling to the terms of their own contracting with companies like Uber and Lyft.

Even when those interviews are with INSURANCE agents committing insurance fraud while working for rideshare companies.

The number of drivers on the Uber and Lyft platforms with criminal records found by ride Safe and other media outlets indicates that Rideshare is the perfect work opportunity for the criminally minded.


Until now Taxi companies have been able to survive total eradication from rideshare operations mainly because they are accountable, insured and have drivers who can pass a fingerprint background check that is in most cases done by a local police or sherrif’s department.

They also offer service to those without cell phones, the disabled and areas of any given city that may be very low income without bias as many municipal laws mandate them too.

With the passage of AB918 and SB759 these requirements would no longer exist and any incentive to provide service to areas of low income, distant rural areas and the disabled would no longer exits because Taxi companies would no longer be competing for those customers but rather the same customers Rideshare/TNC companies exclusively compete for.


The effects of the law


Ride Safe will of course experience an IMMENSE amount of new work this legislation will create through more uninsured wrecks, deaths, fraud and assaults on customers that will now be committed by TAXI companies and their drivers through out the state.  Exactly like their Rideshare/TNC counterparts have been doing these last four years in Wisconsin.

This is not the work that Ride Safe had intended to face.

It is Ride Safe’s mission to protect consumer interests, safety and the ability of drivers to provide a safe ride while also making a fair living doing it.

AB918 and SB759 directly conflict with that mission.

Representative Knold and Senator Nass have not offered a solution to the Taxi industry in Wisconsin, they have handed it a death sentence while introducing a new realm of crime and insurance inflation to the tax payers of Wisconsin.

Companies like TaxiMKE will soon come to realize that this legislation was not designed for them as Uber and Lyft will now have a clear path to becoming taxi companies and also offering rideshare service at the same time, state wide.

Any Taxi companies trying to exploit the new laws will attempt to cherry pick street hails in other cities through out the state as well as their own traditional territories while Uber and Lyft increase their own fleet sizes by offering street hail only “taxi” service.  With no requirements for vehicle type, proper vehicle inspections and a regulatory body (DSPS) that doesn’t actually regulate or audit anything, Uber and Lyft will be able to fill these new “taxi” rank services with existing drivers in their own vehicles.

Smaller Taxi companies will survive more or less on keeping to traditional service routs and standards for providing service to all regardless of income, race or disability but it will come at a severe cost in fleet sizes and availability.

The congestion that will be caused by this will turn most major roadways through out Wisconsin into teaming gridlocks that will rival the bustling streets and outer loop highways of New York and LA on busy nights and during games.


It is an almost futile hope at this point that the Republican lead legislation of Wisconsin will see reason and end this legislation.

If the legislation does pass, Ride Safe will continue the fight to protect the public in Wisconsin as with anywhere else.  Most Taxi companies in Wisconsin DO NOT want this legislation and have vowed to maintain SAFE and INSURED operations regardless of incentives not to in these laws.


If YOU see the reason and wish to make a difference, you can do so by writing as many State senators and assembly representatives as you can and signing THIS PETITION.