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Taxicab Rules

Joshua McNichols
08/11/2008

The Seattle City Council will vote today (Monday) on new taxicab regulations. The rules would increase taxicab fuel efficiency. And they'll also address the tricky politics between taxi owners and their drivers. KUOW's Joshua McNichols has more.

TRANSCRIPT

IF YOU WANT TO BUY A TAXICAB, YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO COME UP WITH A LOT OF MONEY. NOT FOR THE CAR, BUT FOR THE LICENSE. THE DEMAND FOR LICENSES IS HIGH. BUT THE SUPPLY IS LIMITED BY THE CITY. THAT SUPPLY WOULD INCREASE UNDER THE MEASURE SPONSORED BY CITY COUNCILMEMBER JEAN GODDEN.

GODDEN: "There is a balance between those people who own the cabs, and those people who drive them. We're going to issue more licenses. And we're going to require that the people who obtain those cabs for five years before they're allowed to sell a license."

IN RECENT YEARS, A TAXI LICENSE SERVING SEATTLE AND KING COUNTY COULD COST UP TO $200,000. THAT'S ACCORDING TO TAXICAB LOBBYIST CHRIS VAN DYK. BUT HE SAYS THE PRICE HAS COME DOWN ABOUT A THIRD AMIDST SPECULATION THAT GODDEN'S BILL WILL PASS.

THE MEASURE ALSO REQUIRES THAT CAB OWNERS BE DRIVERS. THEY CAN STILL LEASE OUT THEIR VEHICLES FOR PART OF THE DAY. BUT THE RENT THEY CHARGE WILL BE SET BY THE CITY. VAN DYK DOESN'T LIKE THAT BECAUSE HE SAYS IT INTERFERES WITH THE FREE MARKET.

VAN DYK: "If the city sets this rate too low, and the people who own the cabs can't earn enough money on their investment, they're going to stop investing in those cabs. And when the market stops investing in cabs, you're going to get cabs that are older, are crummy."

THOSE CARS WILL STILL NEED TO MEET THE CITY'S MILEAGE STANDARD OF 30 MILES PER GALLON BY 2013. THE CITY ESTIMATES THE MOVE COULD CUT TAXICAB GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS BY 40%.

FOR KUOW, I'M JOSHUA MCNICHOLS

© Copyright 2008, KUOW

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