Cap is lifted: Anyone can now apply to drive a taxi in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The cap is lifted -- and now an unlimited number of drivers can apply to drive a taxi in the City of Milwaukee. The push to drop the cap started in 2013 when the city faced a lawsuit which called the cap unconstitutional. Then, after months of debate, the city did away with the cap.

More than 30 men and women lined up at City Hall to apply for a taxi cab permit on Tuesday morning, September 2nd. Jacqueline Jefferson was one of them.

"Today, I'm trying to put myself back to work and hopefully help some others maybe in need of service," said Jefferson.

Jefferson drove cabs back in the 1980s -- and decided now to start back up.

"I feel very elated that they finally went through with it. I've been attending all the meetings here at City Hall," said Jefferson.

It's potentially the end of a back-and-forth debate of how the city should regulate the cab industry. Lifting the cap also allows ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft to operate legally in Milwaukee.

Jillian Imilkowski is a Lyft driver and must now pay the same $284 permit fee.

"I'm really impressed with Milwaukee. No lie. I think it's a really progressive decision that they made and really excited for this new technology," said Imilkowski.

There has been some push back from ride-share outfits -- debating their drivers were mostly part-time and shouldn't be regulated the same way.  However, Imilkowski says she'll be a full-time Lyft driver.

"I'm so confident in the platform. I've had over 500 Lyfts now and I haven't had any negative experiences," said Imilkowski.

Lifting the cap also meant drivers can now go into business for themselves. It's applauded by drivers, but at the same time leaves some wondering -- are there enough customers to support all the new licenses?

On Wednesday, September 3rd, a federal court judge will hear testimony on how lifting the cap is unfair to the owners of cab companies. The cab companies are arguing that allowing individuals to go into business for themselves will drive out the cab companies.

A lawsuit was filed on August 25th on behalf of taxi cab companies -- calling for a judge to issue a preliminary injunction against the ordinance that lifts the cap.

The Institute for Justice, on behalf of two Milwaukee cab drivers, is moving to intervene in the lawsuit -- saying they will file a motion to have the case dismissed -- upholding the new law that lifts the cap.