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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.

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