By Don McCurdy



I wonder why this wasn’t covered?

There is a conference IATR (International Association of Transportation Regulators) scheduled for September in Seattle. Amazingly, the Seattle Post Intelligencer recently reported that cab drivers in Seattle were staging a protest, complaining of city parking officers ticketing their vehicles when they assist elderly and handicapped passengers to their destinations.

While the issue is common in the industry, the IATR has yet to recognize it and even have a discussion about possible solutions. Often bus lanes occupy the right most lane so even stopping to drop an ambulatory passenger can get you a citation.

Imagine, if you will, the joy of a passenger that gets dropped off at the corner in the driving rain only to have to dash a half a block to the entrance of the building because the driver couldn’t stop to let him out.

Since we’re beating up the IATR how about some enforcement of already established regulations. Almost every city I’ve ever heard of has issues with hotel doormen demanding bribes to load cabs. The ever alert regulators spring into action and write a regulation banning the practice but then never enforce it. My suggestion, if you write it, figure out how you’re going to pay for enforcing it.

Wow, that’s a break!

The Philadelphia Business Journal reports that the taxicab drivers in Philly have called off the “full blown” strike and settled for a 2 hour protest. Too bad, I guess we’ll miss that projected 99% participation. The protest, according to the Daily News, actually involved “several hundred cab drivers”. I guess the rest didn’t show up because it wasn’t the “full blown” strike. I don’t think so.

Well yeah, except for cab drivers.

I often read with amusement newspaper articles that say things like “the suspect is seen on video tape allegedly beating a police officer” or “seven witnesses allegedly saw the defendant shoot the store owner”. Imagine my surprise when I read the following excerpt from the East Valley Tribune of Mesa, Arizona.

“A 21-year-old Scottsdale woman was sexually assaulted by a cab driver early Saturday morning after he picked her up in the downtown area, police reported. Hector Daniel Cebrero, 25, of Phoenix picked up the victim..”. The article goes on to say that the victim “spotted the cab” and subsequently identified the driver.

Now, I admit that I’m not an attorney, but I thought a lineup had to have more than one person. I don’t know if the guy did it or not, but the point is that the reporter doesn’t either. Everybody is innocent until proven guilty. Well, I mean, everybody is innocent until proven guilty except cab drivers. It certainly appears to be the case in this case as reported by the East Valley Tribune. I hope there is more to the story than reported in the article. For example, was the cab stolen?

Regulating the willing. Enforcement is the answer.

Kerrville taxi and limousine companies are complaining that local “gypsy” cabs are stealing their business. Matt Olden of Hill Country Limousine said, “We think it’s critical that we are all on the same, level playing field”. Which brings us to the concept of regulating the willing. With no enforcement, all of the carefully crafted regulations in the world won’t make the industry better.

City Manager Paul Hofmann made the lame remark that “It’s not true to say that we don’t enforce the ordinance. It is true that we don’t proactively enforce the ordinance”. This was after he admitted that he didn’t know if there’d ever been a citation written for a violation of the ordinance regulating vehicles for hire. Not to be outdone in the lack of credibility department, Sam Cox, of Roadrunner Taxi is quoted as saying, “My greatest concern is that the illegitimate operators are not carrying adequate insurance”. Good news though, the city council voted to draft an ordinance to address the issues although nobody mentioned the enforcement of the new ordinance.

Central Dispatch “gets a chance”.

The Lexington, North Carolina city council has allowed Lexington’s only cab company to dispatch from Winston Salem, the site of the company’s headquarters. The taxicab user won’t see any difference, calling a local number and getting the same company they have all along. Interestingly, the complaints about the current dispatch system dominated the discussion.

It has long been my opinion that demanding a “local” office increases the operating costs of a taxicab company with no increase in effectiveness. Allowing companies to operate out of a central location is long overdue.

Medallion values slashed!

In the ‘are you putting me on’ segment it has been reported that the “value” of New Orleans taxicab medallions dropped from $50,000 to $25,000 post Katrina. It seems that almost 500 of the city’s 1608 medallions haven’t been renewed. That would indicate to me that the medallions have lost more than half their value. If you can’t make a living with the madallion then the medallion would appear to be worthless to me. It would certainly seem to be prudent to reduce the size of the industry, since the size of the city has been seriously reduced.

Liveries are transportation services.

This just in: liveries are transportation services. Well, yes, of course they are. You know it and I know it but some jurisdictions have not taken the time to evaluate the livery’s place in the transportation industry and how it effects other recognized and very regulated industry members like the taxicab.

Is it true that part of the reason that the ITLA (International Taxicab and Livery Association) changed it’s name to the TLPA (Taxicab Limousine and Paratransit Association) is that no one knows what a livery is? Well, they figured it out in Springfield, Massachusetts where the Taxi Commission proposed the same rules for liveries and limousines that they have for taxicab drivers.

More cities are coming to the realization that liveries and limousines are providing the same type of service to strangers that taxicabs provide - transportation. As such, they, too, must be regulated. I understand that this is a tremendous problem in the land of taxicab perfection, London, England. If it can happen there, I suppose, it can happen anywhere.





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