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Taxi Talk

January 10, 2013, 10:08 PM by Kelly Bartnick

Taxi Talk

Taxicab businesses are ballooning in Sioux Falls. Over the past six years the number of cab companies in town has tripled and that growth is prompting city leaders to take a second look at its taxi permitting process.

“Some of the cab companies were not using our regulations or using those rules fairly,” Sioux Falls City Council member Kenny Anderson, Jr. said.

This week the city's Public Services Committee started talking about taxis, specifically if the rules and regulations when it comes to licensing them should be changed.

In 2012, there were 18 taxi companies, some of those just single car owners. That's three times more than six years ago.

“Eight of the 18 are brand new. So, that means that seven dropped off and an additional eight had occurred between 2011 and 2012,” Legislative/Operations Manager Jim David told members of the Public Services Committee which has begun the ordinance review.

As many of these types of regulation conversations go, the city is looking at its neighbors’ ordinances to see what it's missing, or what needs to be changed.

“It's livery vehicles, transports, any other type of vehicle that does this type of work,” David said.

The committee is examining three cities: Lincoln, Nebraska, St. Paul, Minnesota and Des Moines, Iowa. The group wants to review how those cities qualify taxi drivers, what their vehicle inspections detail, minimum and maximum cab fare prices and insurance requirements and more. Many of those questions haven't been asked for quite some time.

“What department is responsible for following up and making sure the cars are operating safely and responsibility?” Anderson asked city licensing specialist Jamie Palmer.

“They are required to submit the inspection form with application for all vehicles. They are also required to do them every three months or three thousand miles, whichever comes first,” Palmer said.

The city notified Sioux Falls cab companies about possible ordinance changes. Some stepped forward with specific grievances. They vary from insurance issues, to contract drivers, to the amount of time drivers spend on the road, and even that some companies serve alcohol to customers, which is permitted by state law with a license.

“If it's wrong for a truck driver, I think it would be wrong for anybody. If that car needs to be on the road to service its clientele, then multiple drivers should be encouraged,” 1st Choice Taxi owner Tom Werner said.

“We have some concerns about the ordinances and the way they're written and also the licensing process,” Brent Kinsley of Yellow Cab said.

This conversation is just starting and the cabs will continue to come when you call them. But as the process unfolds you may know more people are watching drivers and their vehicles making sure you get where you want to go safely.

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