Stories indexed with the term ‘taxicab board’

Ann Arbor Taxicab Board Grants Appeal

Ann Arbor city taxicab board meeting (Jan. 24, 2013): The taxicab board’s agenda included two main items: (1) an appeal from a driver who’d been denied a taxicab license when he applied last year; and (2) scheduling of future meetings.

Taxi stand sign on State Street in front of the Michigan Union.

Taxi stand sign on State Street in front of the Michigan Union. From the city’s taxicab ordinance: “Only licensed taxicabs are permitted to park on the taxicab stand.”

The driver’s application had been denied by the city based on the fact that he currently has 7 points on his license – stemming from a right-on-red violation and a speeding violation. The city’s ordinance stipulates that a license to operate a taxicab doesn’t have to be granted if an applicant has more than 6 points on their license. The board quizzed the prospective driver about past traffic infractions and his intentions for future employment, before deciding to grant his appeal.

The outcome of the board’s discussion on meeting time led to a decision to fix its regular meeting time for the fourth Thursday of the month at 5:30 p.m. That’s a decision that applies to the next six months. Before deciding to commit to that schedule, the board weighed the fact that its newest member – Eric Sturgis, whose appointment had been confirmed by the city council just two days earlier – had applied for appointment with the understanding that the regular meeting time was 8 a.m. Sturgis wasn’t able to attend the Jan. 24 meeting.

During public commentary, the board heard from representatives of taxicab companies who complained about limousines that operate as taxicabs – which appears to be an ongoing problem. Under the city’s ordinance, it’s not possible for a vehicle to be licensed as a limousine under the state’s rules and simultaneously operate as a taxicab. The board heard the specific complaint that limousine companies violate the “top light” rule, which prohibits “for hire” lights on the top of vehicles – unless they are licensed as taxicabs.

At the meeting, the board’s city council representative, Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), responded to the complaints by indicating that the board is very aware of the issue. He added that the city’s lobbyist is working on that issue with the state legislature.

The responsibility of the city’s taxicab board is “to enforce the taxicab ordinance, hear appeals of those who are aggrieved by any decision made by the administrator and adopt regulations to facilitate the administration of the taxicab ordinance.” [Full Story]

City Taxicab Board Gets New Member

An additional member has been added to the Ann Arbor taxicab board – Michael Benson. The addition will allow the body to achieve a quorum of three out of five voting members for its meetings. It has not been able to do that since July 2012, when Tim Hull resigned because he took a job on the west coast and could not continue to serve.

Benson was added to the board in a one-step confirmation process – in a vote taken by the city council at its Aug. 20 meeting. Ordinarily, nominations to a board or a commission are first announced at a city council meeting, then confirmed by a council vote at a subsequent meeting.

The taxicab board will now … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Taxicab Board Can’t Meet

On July 24, 2012, the Ann Arbor city clerk announced in a regular email notification that all future city of Ann Arbor taxicab board meetings have been canceled, pending the appointment of new members. The announcement noted that Tim Hull has resigned from the board effective July 31 – so the board no longer has a quorum of members.

With Hull’s resignation, the seven-member body is reduced to four members – city councilmember Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3),  Tom Oldakowski, Tom Crawford (a non-voting ex officio member, as the city’s CFO) and Bill Clock (a non-voting ex officio member, as representative of the Ann Arbor police department). With only two out of five of its voting member positions filled, the board does not have … [Full Story]

Milestone: Getting on Board With Taxis

Editor’s note: The monthly milestone column, which appears on the second day of each month – the anniversary of The Ann Arbor Chronicle’s Sept. 2, 2008 launch – is an opportunity for either the publisher or the editor of The Chronicle to touch base with readers on topics related to this publication. It’s also a time that we highlight, with gratitude, our local advertisers, and ask readers to consider subscribing voluntarily to The Chronicle to support our work.

Taxicab Meter Ann Arbor

This taxicab meter reads "VACANT" – just like two seats on Ann Arbor's taxicab board.

This little taxi ride is going to start where Mary Morgan’s milestone column last month left off – she drew a comparison between news media choices and transportation choices.

This column also will deliver readers to a destination that asks them to consider applying for a mayoral appointment to Ann Arbor’s taxicab board.

If you’d like to take a shortcut, then go ahead and download the application form for the city’s boards and commissions, and return it to the mayor’s office. The address is printed right on the form.

But the longer route will include some discussion about who’s paying the fare for this media cab we call The Ann Arbor Chronicle.

Last Friday evening, Mary Morgan and I ordered an actual cab to cover the 3/4 mile from our Old West Side neighborhood to the near edge of downtown Ann Arbor. Who on earth orders a cab to cover that short a distance? A journalist who needs a piece of art for a column involving taxis, that’s who. The trip required a detour from the planned route. That’s because Washington Street between Ashley and Main was closed for the FoolMoon festival – which we were headed downtown to see.

The taxicab driver circled around to have another go at it from Huron Street.  And he told us he’d knock a quarter mile off the final distance on the meter. He could exercise that discretion, because taxicab drivers function essentially as independent contractors, who lease the vehicles from the taxicab company each night.

There’s a limit to a cabbie’s discretion. I’m guessing he wouldn’t earn a livelihood if he decided just to let passengers ride for free, for as long as they liked, and expect that they might later send him an equitable fare. Yet if operating The Chronicle were like driving a cab, that’s what the voluntary subscriptions part of our business model would look like.  [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Council OKs Taxicab Tweak

At its Nov. 10, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council gave final approval to a set of changes to its taxicab ordinance. The changes make explicit how long a taxicab company license is valid (10 years) and spell out some additional conditions on revocation or suspension of the company license.

The revisions also add reasons that can be used for suspending an individual taxicab driver’s license, which include a city administrator’s view that a driver “has acted in an unprofessional, harassing or threatening manner to passengers, or others.”

At the council’s Oct. 17, 2011 meeting, when the revision had received its initial approval, Tom Crawford – the city’s chief financial officer – had briefed the council on the changes. Crawford serves as a non-voting member of the city’s taxicab board, which had recommended those changes. Crawford characterized the changes as falling in three areas. In the first area, related to licensing, Crawford said that in the past the city had seasonal operators who would want to come in and work the football season and then disappear. The ordinance is being changed so that if a company ceases operation for 45 days, the city can revoke the license. Crawford explained that a healthy taxicab industry needs stability and this is a mechanism to help guard against companies frequently coming in and out of the market.

Another area of change has to do with solicitations and how the companies represent themselves. Several companies advertise themselves as taxis, but they’re in fact limousines. Crawford characterized it as a safety issue for someone who believes a vehicle is a taxi, but it’s in fact a limo. [A taxi is per code "... accepting passengers for hire within the boundaries of the city as directed by the passenger." A limousine is pre-booked.] If a company holds itself out as a taxicab company, it has to be licensed as a taxicab company, Crawford said. [The city's taxicab code already prohibits advertising in the reverse direction – it prohibits taxicabs from holding themselves out as limousines.]

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link] [Full Story]