by Nick Swartsell
Posted In: News
at 09:04 AM | Permalink
Insurance minimums, trip logs and driver background checks among requirements
City Council yesterday voted to approve rules governing ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft, the first time since the companies came here in March that they’ve been regulated by the city.“I don’t know if it will ever be perfect, but in other cities, they’ve outright banned Uber and Lyft,” said Councilwoman Amy Murray, the transportation committee chair. “I think we’ve put together a perfect plan for this point in time, where we’re managing safety in Cincinnati without over-regulation. If we don’t have anything, there’s nothing on the books.”The new regulations classify the ridesharing companies as “transportation network companies” and require them to carry a license with the city costing $10,000 a year. License requirements include $100,000 in liability insurance, keeping trip records for six months, as cab companies must do, requirements for background checks on drivers and minimum requirements for vehicles. When rideshare companies first came to town, cab companies in the city cried foul at the lack of regulation the tech-savvy newcomers enjoyed. Representatives from cab companies protested outside City Hall and lobbied for rule changes. Some rules placed on cab companies, like regulations when drivers can wear shorts, are arcane and burdensome, companies say. Murray said the rules are due for an adjustment.“Certainly this brought out some things in our taxi regulations right now that have not been updated in a while,” she said. “We need to look at that, and our committee will be doing that.”Uber and Lyft have said they’re fundamentally different from taxi companies and shouldn’t be regulated the same way.Uber Ohio General Manager James Ondrey told CityBeat in July that Uber doesn’t oppose all regulations, since the company does some of the things required of cab companies anyway. But he also said the company isn’t the same as a taxi company.“Uber is a technology company,” Ondrey said. “We’ve built a mobile platform that connects users with drivers giving rides. They’re not employees. They’re independent contractors who pay a small fee to us to use our platform.”Many of the regulations Council passed yesterday are things the companies already do voluntarily. Vice Mayor David Mann had some reservations about the regulations and voted against them, saying they didn’t go far enough in terms of insurance and holding ride sharing companies accountable for the fares they’re charging.He said the $25,000 in insurance the companies will be required to carry for accidents where they’re not at fault is too low and could leave citizens under-covered if an uninsured driver hits a ride share car. He also said the companies aren’t transparent enough with the city about their rates.“We are letting them operate on our streets under the license we issue,” Mann said, “and we have no way to direct, easy way to make sure we’re comfortable with what they’re charging.”The companies generally show the rates on their apps, but the rates are variable due to peak pricing schemes, which some have found confusing.Overall, however, Council was supportive of the regulations, which have been in the works for five months and have gone through six versions in Council’s transportation committee. Mann was the only dissenting vote.“This is as close as we were going to get to perfect,” Councilwoman Yvette Simpson said. “I think it’s a show that Cincinnati is open to business and that we’re working to be the big, great city we already are.” Simpson pointed out that cabs still have cabstands and can be hailed. “Uber and Lyft don’t have that,” she said.
by Hannah McCartney
Posted In: Arts
at 10:44 AM | Permalink
Covington, Newport, Cincinnati taxis allowed to overlap service
In honor of the World Choir Games, the largest international event to ever take place in the Cincinnati region, city leaders have already taken several measures to step up the taxi infrastructure to cater to the some 20,000 participants expected to flood into the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region. As part of that initiative, the city of Cincinnati on Tuesday announced an agreement signed by Cincinnati city manager Milton Dohoney Jr. as well as city managers of Newport and Covington, Ky., agreeing to allow licensed taxicabs to freely commute and transport passengers across city lines from July 1-15. This differs from normal taxi law, in which a Covington driver who picked up passengers in Covington and transported them to Cincinnati, for example, would be barred from picking up another group of passengers within Cincinnati limits, instead required to go back to Covington to seek business. Licensed taxi drivers who wish to take part of the integrated system are required to attend a "Hospitality Session" hosted by the City of Cincinnati, which will offer recommendations for interacting with international visitors and offer drivers World Choir Games schedule information. With completion of the session, drivers will earn a purple World Choir Games placard for their car, signifying their ability to commute across the river. In May, City Council voted to approve a number of changes to the Cincinnati taxi system, to be implemented over a series of three stages, beginning July 1 to coincide with the influx of the World Choir Games. Changes included increased fares, an expanded arsenal of taxi stands and improved signage.
by Hannah McCartney
Potential taxi reform touted as response to city growth, development
Anyone who's ever tried to hail a cab in Cincinnati knows it's nothing like the experience you imagine in a big city — stepping out confidently onto the street and gracefully waving your arm isn't usually enough to garner the attention or interest of cab drivers around here. In fact, hailing a cab in the city was illegal until last spring, when City Council lifted the ban.In line with the city's efforts to improve urban infrastructure and bolster methods of transportation, City Council today will vote on a proposal brought forth by Councilman Wendell Young, which would raise taxicab fares in an effort to improve taxi transportation standards across the city.According to Young, the reform is a necessary measure to handle the growth and development in Cincinnati. "I want to be sure that the first and the last impression of our city
that these visitors have, which is often a cab ride, be a first-rate
experience. Our taxi industry needs reform, and this event helped spark
an urgency and an energy to get the work done," said Young in a news release last fall, according to the Business Courier. If approved, the taxi reform would create additional taxi stands in areas with the greatest demand, including Over-the-Rhine, the Banks, University of Cincinnati, Mt. Lookout, Hyde Park Square and Oakley Square. Business standards would also be put into place, including mandating training for all taxi drivers, creating a "Bill of Rights and Expectations" for drivers and customers, standardizing signage and expanding an already-existing taxi hotline. Fees would also increase significantly — the plan would implement a 40-cent jump in rates per mile, up to $2 per mile from $1.60. The initial "drop" fee would also change from $3.40 to $4. City Council will vote on the reform tonight. If it's approved, the changes would take effect July 1, just three days before the beginning the World Choir Games, which is expected to bring an influx of thousands of international visitors. Want to see how Cincinnati's proposed fares stack up? A look at cab fares in a few other cities around the country: New York City : $2.50 upon entry, plus $0.40 for each 1/5 mile, plus several applicable surcharges Chicago : $2.25 upon entry (first 1/9 mile), plus $0.20 for each 1/9 mile, plus applicable surcharges Los Angeles: $2.85 upon entry (first 1/9 mile) plus $0.30 for each 1/9 mile, plus applicable surcharges. Portland : $2.50 upon entry, $2.50 per additional mile, plus applicable surcharges Atlanta: $2.50 upon entry, $2 per additional mile * Keep in mind it's customary everywhere to tip your cab driver 15 to 20 percent.
0 Comments · Wednesday, July 6, 2011
It’s refreshing to hear Cincinnati City Councilpersons discuss forward-thinking concepts — remember when they figured out a way to get the garbage picked up for free so no one had to pay for it? Buncha geniuses.