SANTA MONICA — On Tuesday, June 22, during a bi-weekly meeting, the Santa Monica City Council plans to implement a proposal submitted in July 2008 which would near-completely refurbish the taxicab industry in Santa Monica. Currently, 44 separate licensed cab companies operate in the city. The Council plans to whittle that number down to five.
The dramatic change to the industry in Santa Monica is part of a “franchising” plan, which seeks to ensure equal and consistent taxicab rates, annual franchise fees, as well as reducing automobile emissions and improving wages for the remaining franchises. Each of the franchises will only be allowed to operate 50 vehicles each, bringing the total taxicab vehicle number in Santa Monica from 463 to 250.
The limit on number of vehicles causes concern for companies forced to cut down on their numbers, such as Taxi Taxi, which will have previously had 65 cars total. Metro Cab, a local taxicab service with only 12 to 21 vehicles initially, had previously joined with several organizations to form a larger fleet. In an interview with Canyon News, Metro Cab manager Fuad Saneh expressed his slight disappointment with the limit.
“We were hoping to get more cabs, being one of the premier local cab services of Santa Monica,” said Saneh, “but of course, we were very happy just to be chosen.” The restructuring is also intended to limit the extensive taxicab competition within Santa Monica to “improve living and service for cab drivers,” said Saneh.
After 13 separate companies submitted proposals for a franchise, City Hall has recommended five taxicab companies for the Council’s consideration and Tuesday’s meeting will announce the Council’s final decision. The five recommended companies are Independent Taxi Owners Association, Bell Cab Co., Metro Cab Co., Yellow Cab Co. and Taxi Taxi.
The five companies are merely a recommendation from City Hall, but it’s extremely likely that the recommendation will translate to a confirmation. Saneh plans to attend the City Council meeting Tuesday, most likely among several owners of the eight companies that were not approved for a franchise. “Obviously some people are not happy,” Saneh commented, “but I’m eager to hear the final choices.”