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Transportation Commission Asks One More Year for Hail-a-Taxi to Take

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, January 28, 2009, at 08:05AM
Hal Ed Fuentes

Downtown Center BID's Hal Bastian, one of the main organizers behind the Hail-a-Taxi effort, boards a cab during the program's July 31 kickoff.

Six months into the Hail-a-Taxi program, there's been a "relatively modest" increase in the number of passengers hailing cabs, but that's enough for the city's Transportation Commission to recommend a one-year extension to the pilot program that hopes to create a "street hail" culture in Los Angeles.

Hail-a-Taxi kicked off on July 31, allowing cabs in Downtown and Hollywood to pick up and drop off fares without risking tickets for not being in a legal parking spot. The effort, which had been pushed by business advocates since 2005, required an agreement between LADOT and LAPD on how to not enforce state law against stopping in no stopping zones. That's long been accepted for cabs in cities like San Francisco and San Diego, but was a tough sell in Los Angeles.

Even once the program was in place, organizers faced a chicken-and-egg situation: people won't go looking for cabs if the taxis aren't circling, but the cabbies don't want to spend the gas if fares aren't out there looking for them.

On the positive side, no one's yet complaining about the impact of stopped cabs on traffic. An attached LADOT report says that the "Department's Parking Enforcement Bureau has reported that there has not been any noticeable increase in traffic congestion, hazards or citations issued to taxi drivers resulting from the program."

In December, Downtown Center BID and L.A. Live organized a free lunch and informational event for cabbies, trying to increase awareness and jumpstart the program. The event coincided with temporary signs that went up around Downtown advertising the program.

The Transportation Commission approved the one year extension on January 15, and the council's Transportation committee will hear the item this afternoon before it heads on to full council.

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Hail-a-Taxi

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