SCHENECTADY — Several local cab companies want more time to replace their aging fleets as part of the city's new cab rules.
The updated legislation passed by the City Council earlier this year requires providers to ensure their vehicles are fewer than 10 years old.
But some operators are crying foul as city Police Department engages in the annual round of inspections, claiming they weren’t informed of the new law and the need to replace their aging fleets.
“The issue we’re having is a lot of cabs are more than 10 years old,” said city police Sgt. Christopher Scaccia.
The city Police Department typically inspects the vehicles in April, but the process was pushed back to May this year.
In response, the City Council’s Public Service & Utilities Committee on Monday tentatively gave providers a revised March 31 deadline to upgrade their vehicles.
Scaccia said one operator, Danny’s Taxi Service, will be required to replace their entire fleet of six vehicles.
Electric City Taxi bought four after police inspectors declined to sign off on the older vehicles, Scaccia said.
The new cab rules were developed by Capital District Transportation Authority and passed by the City Council in February as part of an effort to standardize cab service among the Capital Region-area cities.
Greater autonomy would allow them to keep up with a rising minimum wage and would level the playing field against ride-sharing companies like Lyft and Uber, providers argued.
Lawmakers approved the resolution, but pushed back against their claims of ignorance.
Councilwoman Leesa Perazzo cited the year-long process working with the operators to hash out the new rules.
Councilman Vince Riggi said he didn’t dispute the long process, but said the city should have sent out formal letters and been more firm in setting a deadline.
“In hindsight, maybe we should have set a date to be in compliance,” said Riggi.
City Corporation Counsel Carl Falotico asked council members to specify which city department should formally notify the providers as part of their amended law.
But, he added: “If you’re in a business, you’re responsible for knowing the rules and regulations that govern your business.
“To anybody who was paying attention, that was out there for a long time,” he said.
Lawmakers and law enforcement also expressed uncertainty over the process for issuing new medallions for operators who wish to enter the city's market, including the 13 medallions that are now open after a provider exited the industry and shifted to medical transport.
“We were told not to give new medallions out, ” Scaccia said.
After the meeting, Mayor Gary McCarthy said the city Police Department is solely responsible for issuing medallions.
“It’s up to the Schenectady Police Department,” he said.