San Francisco targets taxi rules for latest redo

San Francisco transit officials are reviewing transportation codes to clean up some taxi regulations and to streamline some processes.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Board of Directors on Tuesday approved either to delete old or streamline some taxi regulations to help make taxi drivers lives a bit easier in the world of transportation network companies such as Lyft and Uber.

Kate Toran, SFMTA’s director of taxis and accessible services, said the taxi regulation changes have been an ongoing process for a number of months.

She said she made sure that each change had first focused on public safety and customer service and in addition:

“… allows the industry to innovate and compete in this new paradigm.”

Some of changes included eliminating outdated terminology and references requiring taxi drivers take a medical examination, which the transit agency never enforced, said Toran. She said the regulation came from the days when the Taxicab Commission existed.

Another change will help taxi drivers who left the industry and may want to return. Toran said some taxi drivers may have lapsed permits but might be still driving for another for-hire company. She said if the driver is still driving within a recent timeframe, they would not have go through retraining again.

Drivers will also no longer have to do a shift change on color schemed properties, said Toran:

“We feel like that pulls a lot of supply off the road what can be a peak period and as the industry tends toward decentralization at this time, there are other ways to manage the fleet.”

Color schemed taxis will no longer need to submit weekly data to the SFMTA unless upon request from the transit agency or law enforcement agencies.

One item that board members did take off the table was the addition of having new color schemed permit applicants be affiliated with at least 50 taxi medallions.

Mark Gruber with Green Cab said it was an “unreasonable restriction” particularly for his company and other small taxi companies who work well and do a good job in The City:

“The idea here is to free things up and add more flexibility and that goes in other direction.”

More changes are on the way including reforming the medallion sales program. Toran wrote last month in an email to taxi industry leaders in The City that the transit agency had initiated an independent analysis:

“… to determine the potential market, to develop a comprehensive plan to attract additional interested parties and to develop an advertising/outreach plan.”