“Mayor Bob Filner’s plan to rework San Diego’s taxi industry sped forward this week with an assist from the City Council.
Despite opposition from taxicab owners and the city’s Independent Budget Analyst, the council on Monday approved the mayor’s proposal to spend $100,000 on a study examining how best to regulate taxicabs.
The money was lumped in with Filner’s $1.2 billion overall budget, which the council passed by a 7 to 2 vote.
Filner has stated he intends to return taxi oversight to city government, taking it away from the Metropolitan Transit System, the public agency that has contracted with the city since 1989 to do that job.
Filner’s push follows complaints from taxi drivers and their advocates about a system they say is heavily tilted in favor of taxi owners. Drivers, most of whom lease the cabs they operate, say owners make frequent increases to the already high lease rates, with little notice, forcing them to drive 12 hours a day in some cases.
Mikaiil Hussein, founder and president of the United Taxi Workers of San Diego, an advocacy group for cab drivers, said a new study of the taxi industry “is going to be huge.”
“It’s going to shed light on the issues,” said Hussein, adding that about 150 drivers and their advocates attended Monday’s council meeting.
Taxi owners also attended and said there was no need to examine the industry so soon after a 2011 report commissioned by MTS.
In its own report, the city’s independent budget analyst recommended eliminating funding for the new study, saying: “Given other priority needs of the City this may not be a top Council priority for FY 2014.”
Hussein said the 2011 taxi study relied too heavily on input from taxicab owners, leaving out the perspectives of drivers.
He added that reforming the system has long been “a dream.”
“And it’s happening right now,” he said.”
Original Source: Union Tribune | Council OKs $100K for new taxi study