Time Out for Taxis
The Monterey City Council put the brakes on a county-wide taxi authority at its Tuesday, May 4 meeting.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
The owners of Monterey's Yellow Cab company, backed by a council chamber full of drivers, temporarily squashed a proposal that would have opened the city to competition from other taxis for the first time in more than 30 years.
The City Council voted unanimously to delay voting on the proposal, which would make the city part of a proposed regional taxi authority including Monterey Peninsula cities, Salinas, and the airport. The new plan would end the current system in which Yellow Cab has the exclusive right to pick up passengers in Monterey, while Central Coast Cab is the only company allowed to pick up passengers at Monterey's airport. The Monterey Hospitality Association is probably the plan's strongest backer, while police chiefs also support it because it would relieve local departments of their taxi permitting responsibilities.
Yellow Cab says Monterey Salinas Transit, which would regulate taxis is a competitor with a conflict of interest. "It's like the fox guarding the hen house," said Yellow Cab attorney Bob Rosenthal. What's more, cabbies say the proposal would increase their costs and hurt their business at a time when most barely eke out a living.
The plan hit another snag when Transportation Agency for Monterey County officials announced that the airport, ground zero for the taxi business, is currently unwilling to give up its exclusive concession, which is a money-maker.
City Council members mostly voiced their support for a regional taxi approach, but concluded the plan needs more work. They agreed to convene a meeting where the cab companies, airport officials and Monterey Salinas Transit can hash out the issues before the council reconsiders the plan at its first June meeting.