Control: Transportation and Public Works Committee
File Name: VEHICLE AGE REQUIREMENTS FOR TAXI CABS
Agenda Item Number:
POSSIBLE CHANGES TO THE VEHICLE AGE REQUIREMENTS FOR TAXI CABS
Rebeca Sosa, Prime Sponsor
Transportation and Public Works Committee
Commissioner Sosa introduced the foregoing discussion item. She noted she was willing to sponsor legislation to increase taxicab vehicle age with the caveat that vehicles were checked at least once annually by the Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW) to determine their mechanical and physical condition. Commissioner Sosa further noted any insurance concerns must be brought to DTPW.
Assistant County Attorney Bruce Libhaber advised the County Attorney’s Office would prepare an ordinance sponsored by Commissioner Sosa relating to amending the vehicle age requirements.
Commissioner Sosa asked that the proposed ordinance be prepared as soon as possible.
Commissioner Heyman acknowledged there were time constraints on taxicabs and spoke in support of extending the taxicab vehicle age with a biannual inspection. She mentioned the last time she took a taxicab she was not pleased, and noted drivers with two offences should be removed. Commissioner Heyman offered to cosponsor Commissioner Sosa’s proposed ordinance extending the vehicle age.
In response to Commissioner Higgins’ inquiry regarding the current annual inspection process, Ms. Alice Bravo, Director, Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW), said the ordinance outlined specific vehicle requirements that addressed safety and appearance. She noted aside from the inspection process field inspectors at the Airport examined the vehicles.
A representative from DTPW said the department also looked at credit card machines, vehicle cleanliness and body damage. He noted inspectors were throughout the County and could inspect vehicles at any time; sweeps were performed to ensure vehicles were in compliance and up to date; and suspensions and deficiencies were issued for vehicles that were not up to par and sent to the inspection station to correct these issues.
Ms. Bravo noted there was a requirement for vehicles to have a phone number displayed where an individual could call DTPW to make a report.
Commissioner Higgins opined that a level playing field should be created with the 15 year vehicle age requirements for taxicabs, and the market experience would dictate the quality of those vehicles. She noted DTPW must ensure it had the right inspections to help the taxi industry to thrive.
Chairwoman Edmonson said she would support Commissioner Sosa’s proposed legislation; however, emphasized that it was about the customers’ experience, safety and convenience when riding in taxicabs. She offered a friendly amendment that at the end of two years, the program be reevaluated to determine how it would be working with the 15-year vehicle age requirement and then a decision could be made as to whether or not to extend it after two years.
Commissioner Sosa said the vehicle age requirements for taxicabs would be extended to 15 years with biannual inspection for mechanical and physical conditions including aesthetics, cleanliness and smell of the cars; after two offenses drivers would be out; insurance concerns must be brought to DTPW; the use of credit cards; and air conditioning must be functional. She noted this would be a two-year pilot program with the requirements stated. Commissioner Sosa said she welcomed additional amendments; however, opined that extending the years would help the industry and residents.
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