Taxi Contract Controversy at Transportation Committee Wednesday

9_21_09_taxi.jpgPhoto, by Joe Linton, from the L.A. Taxi Workers Alliance protest at City Hall in August

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
December 2010.

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LADOT’s lack of transparency triggered protests by taxi drivers, calling for the contract to be rescinded.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.

  • Author’s date clarification: I thought this article was going to run on Tuesday morning (not today – Monday afternoon,) so the “tomorrow” in the title actually means Wednesday – the day after tomorrow.

  • Fixed, sorry Joe.

  • I’d love to see LA have a more robust and equitable taxi system – it could help address many first/last mile challenges people have with accessing transit. A few weeks ago I started reading the Driving Poor report – whoa, it kinda blew my mind and not in a good way.

  • Dan

    The taxi system in Los Angeles is corrupt.

  • Do people actually use taxis regularly? I could never see myself in one. I’ve never ridden in a taxi before in my life.

  • @spokker – I think your questions/statements about local taxi use point to the need for reform. Maybe a big part of the reasons that many angelenos don’t use taxis all that regularly because local regulations have hindered taxis from being a more effective part of the transportation system.

    I’ve ridden cabs fairly conveniently in New York, La Paz (Bolivia), San Francisco, and Toronto. I think that a good taxi system is an aspect of what can make a place convenient for people to live car-free.

    In L.A., I’ve only taken a cab about a dozen times in nearly 20 years. Like a car, it’s not a big part of my local transportation mix, but I have now and then found them to be useful for me for late night return trips after transit has stopped running.

  • what i felt was here in los angeles the council is atleast trying some thing to improve conditions. LA’s system is far better than most other cities — sam

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