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Lots to Like in Hail-a-Taxi Implementation

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, May 20, 2008, at 08:22PM
Passing Fares Ed Fuentes

A taxi waits at a cab stand on Bunker Hill.

Curbed was first to report last week that the city's Taxicab Commissioners had approved a Hail-a-Taxi pilot program for Downtown. Not covered, though, were details on how the program would be implemented.

Looking through the report approved by the Commissioners, there's lots to like for Downtowners. The protocols for when and how cabs can stop are well thought out and are geared to favor passenger convenience over Los Angeles' traditionally rigid concern for traffic flow. As a result, the program looks to be set up for success.

At the heart of the Hail-a-Taxi debate is the California Vehicle Code, which doesn't exempt cabs from any laws regarding stopping or double parking. The city's parking enforcement and LAPD officers have been very good at enforcing the law, leaving cabbies unwilling to take chances. While it's legal for a cab to stop and load or unload in any legal parking space, limited spaces, peak hour restrictions and abundant bus stops make the use of legal spots a non-starter for taxi use.

While the city can not change the Vehicle Code, the Hail-a-Taxi program would create a set of protocols that would govern how the city enforces the law. L.A.'s proposed rules mimic those implemented by San Francisco in the 1990's.

Under the proposed protocols, taxis would be allowed to stop in both bus zones and "No Parking" or "No Stopping" zones while in the process of actively loading or unloading passengers. Additionally, a cab would be allowed to double park while loading or unloading as long as there is another free lane in the direction the taxi is heading.

Traffic Officers -- both Parking enforcement and LAPD -- would be given the power to judge whether or not the stopped cab creates a hazardous situation. Instead of ticketing, though, the officer would instruct the cab driver to move and "allow a reasonable amount of time to do so (90 seconds recommended)." Only in the case of a driver who has been warned and who does not move would a ticket be given.

The Hail-a-Taxi program next goes to the council's Transportation committee, and finally to council itself. Once approved by council, a six-month pilot program would take place Downtown. A final implementation could carry the same rules over to Hollywood.

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Topic:
Hail-a-Taxi

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