Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

How taxi companies Yellow Cab, United rose to dominance in Hillsborough

TAMPA — In 1967, the manager of the only cab company in town told the Tampa Taxicab Commission his drivers made about $112 per week. Adjusted for inflation, that's $742 in today's dollars.

Drivers were employees then, with health insurance, vacations and bonuses, city records show. But in 1975, the Yellow Cab Co. jumped on a national trend and made its drivers independent contractors. The agreement cost cabbies their benefits but let them keep whatever they made.

At the time, Yellow Cab manager Nick Cambas told the Tampa Times: "This should be the answer to those squawking about the little man not having a chance to make it in business."

Thirty-six years later, the little man still awaits his chance.

Drivers today say the system leaves them poor and at risk. Their predicament is compounded by a lack of choices: Two companies control 87 percent of the county's permits.

City records show their road to domination was filled with crooked rules, legal battles and one blatant conflict of interest. All worked to block competition.

When the commission first convened in 1947, records show Yellow Cab's predecessor was one of six cab companies. But by late 1965, Joseph Giglio, the grandfather of the brothers who now own Yellow Cab, had bought out the competition.

Eleven days later, Giglio applied for 100 permits. In the previous 17 years, the commission had awarded 22. But Giglio had an advantage: he and one of his cabdrivers were two of the five deciding ballots.

By one vote, Giglio got his 100.

A year later, local auto shop owner John Castellano applied for 60 permits. The commission turned him down, telling him all the permits were taken.

For months, Castellano fought the decision. Then, in May 1967, news reports said a state attorney was investigating Giglio's taxi monopoly. Days later, Giglio turned over 50 permits to Castellano, who formed United Cab.

Yellow and United have been archrivals ever since.

With competition, Yellow began hemorrhaging permits, unable to keep them filled at a profit. United soon earned an extra 50, but Yellow swiftly sued.

The judge sided with Yellow on a technicality: that any new permits must first be offered to existing permit holders. It was the rule that for years helped Yellow and United keep their grip on the market, records show.

The law was thrown out when the county took over taxi regulation in 1976. But the companies' duopoly was already secure, and stands unbroken.

The companies also might have been aided in a way that doesn't appear in the official record, said Scott Deitche, author of Cigar City Mafia. Nick Furci was the general manager of Yellow Cab from 1950 to at least 1972, according to federal records. He then managed United Cab.

He also was twice identified in congressional hearings as a member of the Tampa Mafia.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Jack Nicas can be reached at jnicas@sptimes.com (813) 226-3401.

How taxi companies Yellow Cab, United rose to dominance in Hillsborough 04/16/11 [Last modified: Monday, April 25, 2011 10:51am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Following Trump's trip, Merkel says Europe can't rely on U.S. anymore

    Politics

    LONDON — German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday declared a new chapter in U.S.-European relations after contentious meetings with President Donald Trump last week, saying that Europe "really must take our fate into our own hands."

    G7 leaders, from left, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Junker, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Donald Trump, and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, pose for a family photo at the Ancient Greek Theater of Taormina, Friday, May 26, 2017, in Taormina, Italy. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) ITAV149
  2. Seven children, 1 to 10, seriously injured when driver loses control on I-4

    Accidents

    TAMPA — Seven young passengers 1 to 10 years old were seriously injured when the driver of a Chevrolet Suburban lost control, causing the vehicle to flip and hit a fence on Interstate 4 just east of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of May 29-June 4

    Events

    Memorial Day: Among the free events paying tribute to fallen soldiers today is the Bay Pines VA Memorial Day Ceremony in St. Petersburg, with speakers including Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Charlie Christ, musical performances, a rifle salute and taps. (727) 319-6479 . The Florida National Cemetery …

    Young blonde boy carrying an American Flag over a wooden Bridge.
  4. Sheriff's Office: Drug dispute preceded fatal Largo motel shooting

    Crime

    LARGO — A fight over drugs preceded the shooting death of a 47-year-old man Thursday night at a Largo motel, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said Sunday.

    Angel E. Martinez, 24, is accused in the shooting death of Ricky Garland, 47, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. [Pinellas County Jail]
  5. Nearly 40 hospitalized on first day of Sunset Music Festival, on pace to exceed last year

    News

    To reduce the number of medical emergencies this year, sponsors of the Sunset Music Festival promised heightened security and safety measures during this weekend's event at Raymond James Stadium.

    Thousands of people crowd the main stage at the Sunset Music Festival on Saturday in the north Raymond James Stadium parking area. The temperature at the time of the photo was 92 degrees. [LUIS SANTANA   |   Times]