Taxi Contract Controversy at Transportation Committee Wednesday
The agenda for this Wednesday’s Los Angeles City Council Transportation Committee includes an important hearing on the future of Los Angeles’ taxi system.
As is evident in cities throughout the world, taxis can play an
important role in providing a healthy balance of transportation
options. Taxis are considered a public utitlity, hence are regulated
tightly by the city. Taxis’ effectiveness is hindered by L.A.’s
byzantine system of taxi regulations. Numerous issues in the taxi
industry have been raised by studies including UCLA’s Driving Poor and the Los Angeles Taxi Workers’ Alliance’s Sweatshops on Wheels.
In late 2008, the city issued a Request For Proposals (RFP) for a
consultant to review the current taxi system and to make
recommendations on how to resolve problems. The review is targeted to
be completed so that feedback can be incorporated in to the system
before the city revisits existing taxi franchises due to expire in
The City Council directed the LADOT to report back with their
recommendations for the council to review, but that process went out
the window this summer. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation
made the determination that, despite the council’s specifications,
LADOT could select a consultant, bypass the City Council and Taxi
Commission, and go straight to Mayor Villaraigosa. In July, LADOT and
the Mayor’s office awarded the $250,000 taxi consultant contract to
Nelson/Nygaard and its team leader Will Rodman. Rodman worked with the
city in 2000 to craft the current system that has so many problems.
LADOT’s lack of transparency triggered protests by taxi drivers, calling for the contract to be rescinded. Councilmembers Alarcon and Rosendahl initiated a motion (08-0531-s1)
requesting that LADOT appear before the Transportation Committee this
week to explain why the council and the public were excluded from the
contract approval process.