Assembly Member Proposes Sweeping Changes in Taxi Regulation
Ordinance would increase number of cab permits issued
ANCHORAGE - Have you ever had trouble getting a cab? The answer could depend on where you live. One Anchorage Assemblywoman is proposing sweeping changes to the way cabs are regulated in our city with the aim of putting more of them on the streets.
There’s plenty of traffic in downtown Eagle River but there’s one kind of car you rarely see, it’s a cab. Eagle River doesn’t have cab service, and for people like Robb Blake, who owns a jewelry store there, that’s a problem.
“It’s twelve miles each way, so they aren’t going to come unless they are desperate,” said Blake, talking about attempts to get an Anchorage cab to make the trip north. “I’ve done it myself just to see if they’d come, and they didn’t.”
Assembly member Debbie Ossiander said there are less than 200 cab permits for the entire municipality; she said that’s not enough.
“I think the answer is to just add more vehicles out there so that people's needs can be met,” Ossiander said.
Ossiander will introduce a proposal to the Assembly on Tuesday that would make big changes to the way cabs are regulated in Anchorage, including allowing more of them. It would authorize the municipality to issue ten new cab permits every year for the next ten years. In addition, a special permit would allow for a new type of cab service that would work exclusively at night to pick up patrons when the bars get out.
But some people wonder whether more cabs are necessary -- including many drivers.
“There’s not enough business to add more cabs,” said long time driver Jeff Bender. “I’m making less money than I did eight years ago.”
Bender was one of a long line of drivers waiting for passengers at the Anchorage Airport. Carl Guerra was another.
“If you put more cabs on the road, the whole industry is going to be too diluted, you won’t be able to make any money,” said Guerra.
Another group that is likely to protest the proposal are the people who currently own permits. Right now the law allows those to be sold on the open market and they fetch top dollar. Ossiander said the most recent permit sold went for over $100,000 dollars. Under her plan those sales would be banned in ten years, enough time, she says, to allow the permits to depreciate.