Our View: City Hall should repair rapport with taxi industry


Alexandrias government placed overreaching regulations on the citys taxicab industry last year, creating quotas for drivers that clamped down on their income in an attempt to improve customer service. The recent scuffle over cab inspections that left 68 drivers suspended is indicative of further insensitivity on the governments part and must be mended.
Deadlines in every industry are implemented for good reason. By June of each year, Alexandrias cabbies must pass inspection with the police department to ensure safe rides for customers. This year, a last-minute rush-hour of drivers flooded the inspectors office during the last weeks of June even on the last day resulting in suspensions. Such a penalty is unfair to the drivers and suggests the current system needs a refurbishment.
The system was at fault, not the cab drivers. The deadline for drivers was June 30, and many cabbies showed up on or before that date only to find inspectors unable to handle their checkups. If the city implements a deadline, it has to honor that deadline honestly by having the manpower available to deliver what the law requires. The alternative is lost income for drivers.
The citys two largest cab companies, Union Cab and Yellow Cab, were scheduled to go through inspection in the same month. Of course this would cause a traffic jam at the inspectors office.
There is a way around the last-minute rush. The city should assign a narrower time slot a day or two for individual drivers. The effect would be threefold: no lines for cabbies, meaning no risk of suspension and income; less stress on the citys inspectors; and less waste of taxpayer money. (If inspectors are working five hours a day, and most cab drivers arrive near the deadline, what are city employees doing in the meantime other than getting paid to sit?)
A narrower window would also hold cabbies accountable if they missed appointments.
The city deserves credit for postponing cabbies suspensions until after the lucrative Independence Day holiday as a nod of goodwill. But it is also in the citys best interest to have as many taxis as possible during a weekend of reveling customer service was the reason the city became involved in the industry to begin with. 
The drivers, too, have a responsibility to get inspected on time some apparently never showed up at all.
Altering the system would enhance the ailing relationship between the taxi industry and the city government, and could even save taxpayers money in the process.