Alexandria’s taxi industry has a slew of new rules to work with, but a controversial proposal to the city’s taxi cab ordinance regulating driver behavior isn’t one of them.
After nearly four hours of heated debate marked by taxi cab companies and drivers accusing one another of subverting existing rules, city council voted 6-1 in favor of most recommended reforms to the existing industry regulations. Councilwoman Alicia Hughes cast the lone dissenting vote.
Among the changes, drivers still must take two dispatched calls per day, but can count in-city pickups from taxi stands and metro stations, regular clients and trips from the airport with an Alexandria destination toward a portion of the daily requirement.
In another shift, drivers now face civil fines rather than suspension from work if a complaint is filed against them and upheld by city officials.
Cab companies also must have at least one vehicle, or 1 percent of their fleet, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act during dispatch hours, though most companies already dispatch vehicles with the necessary modifications.
A requirement for cabs to accept credit cards as well as cash also fell by the wayside, despite support from Hughes. The city isn’t in the business of micromanaging private companies, said Vice Mayor Kerry Donley. He likened it to the governor’s proposal to privatize the liquor industry.
We shouldn’t be in the business of telling a particular class of businesses you have to accept credit cards, Donley said. I think this is a reach… We don’t regulate other businesses this way.
One of the more contentious proposals in the reforms, allowing the revoking of regularly rude or discourteous drivers’ licenses, didn’t pass muster either. At Mayor Bill Euille’s recommendation Councilman Rob Krupicka proposed removing the language from the reforms shortly before the council voted on the ordinance as a whole.
The proposed behavior regulation came under withering fire from cabbies throughout the afternoon and evening. They criticized city staff for trying nullify their first amendment rights while arguing rude behavior is bad for business anyway.
I just think that it’s overkill, the mayor said. The city is trying to regulate the behavior of private employees.