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Alexandria cutting back on taxi regulations to help struggling industry

Yellow Cab taxi (image via Alexandria Yellow Cab/Facebook)

Alexandria’s taxi cab industry is going through some changes as a result of ongoing used vehicle supply issues.

New and used vehicles remain very expensive as a result of pandemic-related disruptions to car production. As a result, local taxi cab drivers with vehicles that are coming up on the city’s age limit for taxis have expressed concerns they won’t be able to afford vehicles in compliance with the city’s limit that non-hybrid taxi vehicles can’t be older than 10 years.

At a meeting earlier this week, the Traffic and Parking Board reviewed potential changes to taxi regulations in Alexandria. Among the recommendations working their way through the city review process are changes that would eliminate the age requirement for vehicles and allow taxi companies to determine if an age limit is necessary.

Other changes focus on making city policy flexible, allowing taxi companies to reduce size to meet demand without incurring penalties, and continuing fee reductions implemented last year.

The city is increasing some fees on taxis though, adding a $1 surcharge and a $0.50 increase to the initial meter charge.

A staff report to the Traffic and Parking Board said the taxi industry is still in rough shape following the double hits of competition from companies like Uber and Lyft and then the pandemic.

“The taxi industry continues to face challenges resulting from the pandemic and the increased competition from Transportation Network Companies, such as Uber and Lyft,” the report said. “Regarding the impacts of the pandemic, many taxi trips start or end at hotels and National Airport. While travel is increasing, it is not back to pre-pandemic levels.”

Kyle Summers, Chief Operating Officer of Alexandria Yellow Cab, said the removal of the limit on the age of taxis will be a relief to many local drivers.

“We support the proposed changes,” Summers said. “With Covid, we lost quite a few vehicles with drivers no longer able to work. They are coming back, but drivers whose vehicles are going to expire soon are struggling to find options to replace their vehicles. Removing the ten-year limit on vehicles is really going to help the industry continue to work, continue to make a living, and serve the public.”

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