Hail-A-Taxi Comes to Hollywood

Last year the City decided to ease its restrictive rules that limited when and where cabs could pick up passengers in a Downtown Pilot program.  Cabbies and the LADOT must have been happy with the results, because the program has expanded to Hollywood beginning this week and ending in January 10, 2010.

So far, everyone seems excited about the taxi program, with Council President Eric Garcetti, the Councilman for Hollywood, going so far as to say the program will, "make it easier for people to enjoy the world-class attractions,
shopping and dining in this community, and it alleviates traffic
congestion."  The same NBC piece quotes leaders of homeowners and business groups claiming the program will reduce car-dependency.

And that’s the real question, will being able to "Hail-a-Taxi" in Hollywood reduce V.M.T. and car dependency?  After all, a trip made in the back of a cab or behind a steering wheel will go the same distance.

I think the largest argument in favor of "Hail-a-Taxi" being a progressive step forward is that with our subway service not running late at night, people traveling to Hollywood for a late-night event can take the train to the event and not have to run out afterwards to catch a train home.  Taxi’s can also help solve the "last mile" problem for train riders.

For the argument that cabs are going to be bad for traffic congestion and alternative transportation is that for many people cabs might replace bus or train trips and actually increase the amount of car traffic on local streets.  While there was a concern last year that the ordinance would lead to a rash of double-parked cars in the Downtown, it seems as though those fears were unfounded.

There hasn’t been a lot of research on the impact of "Hail-a-Taxi" type programs have on VMT, so it’s up to us.  If you live in or near Hollywood, or are a regular visitor; keep your eyes open and let me know what you think of "Hail-a-Taxi" in Hollywood during and after the pilot program.  The comments section will remain open, or you can email me at damien@streetsblog.org.

  • chris

    The benefit of taxis is that they do not require parking spaces. A typical person who drives everywhere requires 9 parking spaces (1 for each location they go during the day, plus at home), while a taxi doesn’t reqire any. If a typical taxi carries say 30 passengers a day, that would be 270 fewer parking spaces required per cab. Without the need for parking spaces breaking up the built environment, a far more pleasant, dense, and walkable city is possible.

  • DJB

    Cabs are a nice pedestrian and transit amenity. As this piece suggests, we need systematic study to evaluate the impact of a hail-a-taxi system on VMT (anecdotes will be interesting but probably won’t cut it). Of course this impact isn’t static, but dynamic/dependent on people’s travel patterns.

    If lots of people use cabs instead of driving, it could reduce VMT. If hardly anyone uses it, or if people replace non-vehicular trips with cab trips it could increase VMT.

    The exciting thing about taxis is, like other vehicle fleets (depending on how the cabs are owned), its easier to convert them to alternative fuels like natural gas, hydrogen, or even electricity because fleets can install their own refueling stations.

    Even if a taxi system increases VMT it could reduce emissions by taking advantage of cutting edge cleaner-car technology. The trend away from the old Crown Victorias and towards hybrids in taxi fleets is encouraging.

  • My colleagues and I spent Tuesday afternoon posting the “hail a taxi” signs all throughout the core of Hollywood. (We work for the Hollywood BID.) We really hope people will experiment and see how easy it is to get from Pt. A to Pt. B in a cab. On Wed, we had to travel from Hollywood & Vine to a meeting at Hollywood & Orange. Where we normally would’ve driven a car, and paid for parking, we started walking westbound, saw a taxi, hailed it (!) and it stopped. Yay! It was $6.45, shared between two people, to get to our destination. The more we do this, the more the cabs will troll Hollywood.

  • AW

    Let’s not forget about DUIs.

  • manny

    It’s hilarious that this is even being ‘tested’ of course there should be cabs! I know there are a lot of Angelenos who don’t like that evil NY’ers and Chicagoans keep moving here and wanting some of the things that make those cities tick. (and tick more efficiently says this native Chicagoan) but it’s time to grow up Los Angeles.

    We have TONS of visitors from around the world who are simply aghast that the rail system is a joke (and stops running by midnight) and are then left equally in the lurch when they learn that taxis are a mythological creature rather than a reality in a metropolitan area that has a population that is nearly as large as all of Holland.

    The red line MUST be turned into a 24 hour rail and cabs need to become more common. AW hit it on the head too, cabs and rail will reduce DUI’s without a doubt. It’s time to become a modern city again. LA used to have a rail system that was truly great. Let’s connect the city again.

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