Schenectady taxicab drivers aren’t pleased with Capital District Transportation Authority’s proposed ordinance to unify regulations for taxi companies.
A public hearing was held on the ordinance during Monday’s City Council meeting, where taxicab owners and drivers said the were concerned the proposed rules could hurt their business.
“I feel [the ordinance] is going to be a strain on [taxi companies] due to the revenue they’re taking in,” said Gary Derocher, owner of Electric City Taxi, in an interview following the hearing. “It will hurt my business and it will hurt my revenue.”
The ordinance from CDTA would bring uniformity to how taxi companies in the Capital District are regulated. This includes cab cleanliness, passenger fares, insurance coverage and other items.
Currently, regulations for taxi companies vary by community.
“The goal is to create a streamlined and more transparent taxi service,” said Lauren Bailey, mobility manager for CDTA.
Cities such as Saratoga Springs, Troy and Albany have adopted the unified regulations. Other municipalities, such as Rensselaer, Schenectady and the town of Colonie have not.
Bailey said the only money the transportation authority would take in would be payment from municipalities for the administration of its program. This would include administration tasks such as licensing and registration of vehicles. The rest of the revenue, such as money from licenses and medallions, would go to the city.
“It’s cheaper than [municipalities] doing it on their own,” Bailey said.
But taxicab company owners were concerned about some of the provisions in the ordinance, such as one that leaves an option open for taxicabs from one city to operate in other cities.
With there already being 17 cab companies operating in the city, Derocher and his employee, Phil Gibbs, said there’s already too many.
“There’s less pie going around,” Gibbs said.
Derocher and Gibbs also said the provision stating companies could not have vehicles older than seven years would be too costly.
Bailey said the agency is still collecting comments from taxi companies on the ordinance and that it wasn’t trying to hurt them. “[The ordinance] is a work in progress,” she said.
Once all six municipalities adopt the proposed ordinance, CDTA said it will take approximately a year transition before all cab companies are brought under its regulatory authority.
The administration of medallions and regulations would be taken over by CDTA, as well as the handling of complaints, all of which is currently under the purview of the Schenectady Police Department.
CDTA originally hoped the ordinance would have been approved before Jan. 1 of this year, after the state Legislature approved CDTA’s ability to oversee local taxicab companies in 2016.
City Council members said they heard the concerns from taxi companies during the meeting and will take them into consideration.
Councilwoman Marion Porterfield said there were “good points raised” by the taxi companies.
“We want to take a look at what was said and look at what’s proposed and see if it makes sense to make changes,” Porterfield said.
City Council President Ed Kosiur said it’s important to listen to taxi companies.
“We want to take care of our small businesses, the taxi companies, and make sure they’re the main focus,” Kosiur said.
If the ordinance is approved during the council’s committee meeting on Jan. 16, it will be put up to a vote during its regular meeting on Jan. 22.