Hailing the Cabs

By • on June 12, 2010

June 11, 2010
Austin Chronicle

Given the city’s historically laissez-faire approach to the local taxi industry, this year has seen a relative flood of official action. A proposal from Council Member Bill Spelman, passed late last month, seeks to develop performance indicators for taxis and a revised methodology for awarding franchise agreements and to cap terminal fees for drivers. It also calls for an assessment of performance measures currently collected by the city’s Transportation Department; the use of biofuel, renewable fuel, or hybrid technology in franchise fleets; a look at the percentage of driver-owners in franchise and drivers leasing more than one permit; the growth rate of fees charged to drivers by the franchises; and more.

This comes in addition to two separate items the council passed in February. One established a nearly 13% raise in rates, to be gradually implemented through 2013. The other directed the city manager to work with the Urban Transportation Commission in examining several other taxi-related issues and bring back recommendations by the end of September. Items for discussion will include:

• Establishing flat rates from the airport to Downtown and to the UT campus area;

• Establishing flat rates for trips within the central business district;

• Establishing a “passenger cleanup” fee, applied when a cab is pulled out of rotation for cleaning;

• Establishing cab stands in nightlife areas like the Warehouse District; and

• Creating “hailing icons” and new pickup procedures to make it easier to hail cabs.

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