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Doderer: The impending taxi cab cliff

BY GUEST COLUMN | DECEMBER 10, 2012 6:30 AM

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To the Iowa City City Council and its citizens: I, Dennis Woods, propose the following. That the City Council and City Clerk Marian Karr defer consideration of the proposed [cab] amendments until thoroughly studied; repeal the requirement for 24-7 dispatchers.

No study has been cited that the use of dispatchers from a cab has led to increased accidents or death. In fact, no study has been sighted, period. Common sense would indicate that the use of non-hand-held Bluetooth technology is safer and should be preferred to the ’40s technology suggested by Yellow Cab, a technology that entails grabbing a device, clicking it, and then speaking into the device while driving with one hand. 

With Bluetooth devices and cell phones, both hands are free to operate the vehicle. California, a state with greater traffic and one that frequently is ahead of the trend, has recognized this and is phasing out the old-fashioned dispatch methods.

I believe the ordinance is an unwarranted, anti-competitive, power grab by Yellow Cab and Marco’s Taxicab to run smaller operations out of business.

There is a place in Iowa City for the larger cab company, with its dispatchers using whatever technology (although the hands free seems safer), but there is also a place for the smaller operator who provides a more personable service to repeat customers. 

In my case I almost never have time for any calls from a dispatcher because I am nightly occupied with the clients who contact me directly. Clients who appreciate the special client-centric service I provide with a cell phone and Bluetooth device. 

I feel we should reconsider the ordinance that requires cabs on the street 24-7 with out regard to time of day and demand. 

We should reopen the study to transportation, economic, public health, and legal experts and to the independent or “co-dependent” cab owner-operators. It might also be wise to speak with consumers of all ages including students.

It needs to be recognized that cab drivers, especially those such as me, who serve customers they know and care about, are frontline allies with the police in managing the Iowa City alcohol problem. 

Dennis Woods Doderer
owner-operator, Red Line Cab


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