MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The cap has been lifted, and on Tuesday, September 2nd, an unlimited number of Milwaukee drivers can apply for a taxi cab license -- and begin operating their taxi the same day! One Milwaukee taxi cab company isn't afraid of competition -- as long as it's fair.
Ali Mohamed owns Yellow Cab Co-Op in Milwaukee. He says the cab business was good when he started back in the mid-90s.
"It was real successful until right now. We are worrying about what's going on," Mohamed said.
Mohamed says he's bracing for Tuesday -- when Milwaukee will no longer restrict how many taxi cabs operate in the city. He says he's not worried so much about competition, but rather, drivers who don't get a permit and operate illegally.
"They are not paying what we are paying, so if they want the competition, let them pay what we are paying and we don't mind," Mohamed said.
Taxi cab licenses have been a hot commodity in Milwaukee. The city has been operating with 420 licensed taxi cab drivers, but the city clerk says a recent lottery to get a permit had 2,000 applicants.
On Tuesday, when the cap on licenses is lifted, the city clerk says he expects to be busy.
"Certainly, we are prepared to potentially have several hundred individuals come here Tuesday," Milwaukee City Clerk Jim Owczarski said.
Cab driver Walid Natasheh has been driving for 17 years. He is under the impression there aren't enough fares to go around. He says when the cap is lifted, he will lose even more riders to part-time drivers.
"It's getting worse and worse every year. A lot of people are going to try it and that's really going to hurt the regular drivers who have been doing it for so long because that's the only thing we know how to do," Natasheh said.
City officials say the change has been something citizens have been asking for.
"We are hoping this increases the diversity and the breath of options for people who want to travel that way," Owczarski said.
The turnout on Tuesday will be an indication of how many more cabs we could see in the city of Milwaukee in the near future.
The lifting of the cap on taxi cab licenses allows ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft to operate legally in Milwaukee. Those drivers, just like traditional cabbies must get the $284 permit.
All drivers will need to pass background checks, have insurance, and pass an annual car inspection.
Yellow Cab's owner says he's worried about people who don't get a permit -- and operate illegally.
For those who choose to do that, the city imposes penalties.
For a first offense, the penalty would rise from a minimum of $250 and maximum of $500 to a minimum of $1,500 and a maximum of $ 2,500. The penalties for a second offense within 24 months would be increased from a minimum of $500 and a maximum of $750 to a minimum of $2,500 and a maximum of $4,000, and for a third offense within 24 months, the penalties would be increased from a minimum of $750 and a maximum of $1,000 to a minimum of $3,000 and a maximum of $5,000.
Joe Sanfelippo Cabs, Inc. and a group of other Milwaukee taxi companies have filed suit in federal court -- seeking to block the law that lifted the cap.
After the suit was filed, the Institute for Justice announced it will intervene in the lawsuit -- representing taxi cab drivers.
The City of Milwaukee's Clerk's Office has these taxi cab license applications available online.
CLICK HERE to access a taxi cab license application.
CLICK HERE to access a public passenger vehicle application.
CLICK HERE to visit the Milwaukee Clerk's Office's License Division's website.