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Reforms may encourage Grand Rapids taxicab growth

Ad Meskens via Wikimedia | CC BY 2.0

Taxicab operators and companies in Grand Rapids may soon see less regulations, amid a changing transportation landscape. 

“These recommendations are not intended to regulate Uber, Lyft or other transportation network companies.”

In a presentation to city officials on Tuesday, Grand Rapids City Clerk Darlene O’Neal says she wants to make that first part clear.

“The intent is to help to improve services that are delivered to our visitors and our community members.”

O’Neal was part of a steering committee studying transportation last year, that found deregulating parts of city taxicab code may be economically beneficial and less onerous for the industry.

In other words – it’s not Uber. It’s the market.

“We want to reduce barriers, and we want to allow individuals interested in providing taxicab services to the community, that you’re able to do so.”

The proposed reforms include a change to flat-fee licensing, removing brick-and-mortar and financial asset requirements and adding taxicab pickup zones to certain downtown areas.

It’d also allow taxicabs to sell ad space.

And, it would remove a uniform vehicle scheme requirement if you only have one or two vehicles – which O’Neal compares to the setup of an Uber or Lyft driver.

When the Uber model arrived in Grand Rapids two years ago, the city said it was not going to take a position.

That upset some local cab companies, some of whom attended a December 2014 meeting requesting a fair playing field.

The majority of proposed changes moved with little comment by city commissioners, with the exception of a proposed 24-7 availability requirement.

They’re expected to vote on the changes next month.

Hilary is a General Assignment and Enterprise reporter for WGVU Public Media. She joined WGVU in September 2014 after several years of experience as a local news reporter, anchor and photojournalist in Midland, Saginaw and Bay counties. She's also worked as a financial and business reporter and audio field producer.
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