In an effort to bring up-to-date the regulations that govern taxis and new ride share services, the Long beach City Council last night directed staff to develop a pilot program to allow traditional taxis to compete more effectively with social rideshare services like Lyft and Uber. If successful, this pilot program could evolve beyond the region and serve as model for other cities nationwide.
“The regulations currently in place were created long before the sharing economy existed,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “We are the first big city to look at this situation and take decisive action to modernize our regulations, allowing taxis and ride share services to compete fairly, and improving services, and pricing, for consumers.”
The pilot program will allow the city to maintain oversight of local cab services while still capturing fees that help offset other municipal infrastructure costs, a critical element not possible with non-regulated ride share services. Traditional cab companies across the nation have been challenged with developing strategies to will allow them to effectively compete in the current market of transportation network companies (TNCs) and social media savvy riders.
William Rouse, General Manager of Long Beach Yellow Cab, said “We appreciate the city’s leadership in in taking a hard look at the competitive disadvantages we face. This pilot program gives us a viable platform on which to market our services against non-traditional competition in a more realistic market setting.”
Key components of Long Beach’s pilot program will include provisions that will allow taxicabs to:
- Add more vehicles to its fleet – typically hybrids.
- Offer direct to consumer incentives and discounts to promote cab use, a key element now prohibited by most cab regulations.
- Continue to preserve public safety through standard practices of maintaining full insurance and conducting background checks on drivers.
“We are not only preserving local jobs, we are increasing beneficial market competition and improving the kinds of transportation options available to our residents,” said Mayor Garcia.