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Iowa City City Council moves on taxi ordinance

BY NICK HASSETT | NOVEMBER 28, 2012 6:30 AM

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The Iowa City City Council moved forward with an amendment to city regulations regarding taxis, despite opposition from several small taxicab representatives.

The council voted 7-0 in favor of the ordinance in its first consideration, which would require cab companies to have a distinctive and consistent color scheme and label, a dispatching office within the Iowa City or Coralville city limits, and changing the date for when taxicabs are required to obtain a license.

Several members of the public spoke out in opposition to the amendment, including local taxi owner-operator Dennis Doberer.

“My concern is that these amendments have not been thought out thoroughly,” he said. “In pure economic terms, it will increase the concentration of the two major companies in the marketplace. Adding additional costs to cab companies is only going to be a limitation for entry into the marketplace. If you want to talk about job killing, that’s what it would do."

Several other taxicab drivers and representatives spoke during public discussion of the amendment, saying the amendment would be anticompetitive and that the changes proposed were largely unnecessary.

However, not all taxi companies were opposed to the amendment.

Roger Bradley, the manager of Yellow Cab in Iowa City, said the amendment was necessary for consistency and improving standards.

“Anything that we can do to make cab companies more professional and more worried about their behavior in general would be good,” he said.

City staff maintained that the changes would only apply to companies with a four-cab fleet or larger, though there was some confusion as to what was allowed under current law in regards to the number of taxis a company must maintain.

Iowa City Mayor Matt Hayek said overall he thought the amendment would have a positive impact.

“We can’t please everybody in the process,” he said. “I have faith in the process of city staff to come up with the best practices and improvements on what we do.”

However, despite voting for the first consideration, City Councilor Jim Throgmorton expressed some concern about some cab companies being excluded from the decision process.

“We should contact and speak with individuals that came up here tonight,” he said. “I don’t feel comfortable approving this policy given what I’ve just heard. This is new information.”


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