More cabs coming to SF streets

It might soon be easier for San Francisco residents and tourists to find a cab in the city. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency approved hundreds of new taxi permits for this year and next year at its Tuesday board meeting.

The transit agency’s board unanimously approved 120 new taxi permits for 2013 and 200 additional new permits for 2014. The new increase of cabs comes from recommendations from an independent study by Hara Associates Inc, which said the city has a taxi shortage.

Dan Hara, an economist, cited long waits at taxi stands, residential neighborhoods and a poor dispatch service as part of his reasons why San Francisco has a taxi shortage.

He also cited the growing number of customers using ride sharing application services such as Lyft and SideCar because of customers not being able to get a cab in the city. Hara said when surveying customers who used Uber, another car app service that uses black town cars, customers said they liked Uber because they were able to get a car to their home.

Despite the growing popularity of the other car services, Hara said there is a demand for taxi services, citing that residents would take a taxi if it were more reliable.

Mark Gruberg, a member of the United Taxicab Workers, a cab driver organization, wanted the board to hold off from making decision about issuing new permits because of the California Public Utilities Commission studying the ride sharing app services:

“From all appearances we’re expecting they are going to be legalized by the state PUC. Under those circumstances, I don’t see how you can have any kind of coherent decision on the number of cabs. Enforcement is not going to mean a thing if these services are legalized and we’re pushing more and more vehicles onto the streets from all sides.”

Besides issuing new permits, the SFMTA also lowered the cost of medallions from $300,000 to $250,000.