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Grand Rapids lightens taxicab law for 'more fair' market

Downtown Grand Rapids
Rachel Kramer | CC BY 2.0

Grand Rapids officials have eased taxicab regulations in favor of a more competitive market. 

The city commission on Tuesday approved removal of several licensing requirements – including the need for $50,000 in liquid assets and a brick-and-mortar headquarters, among other items.

Commissioners spoke of making market barriers as low as possible, particularly as it relates to ride-hailing software companies like Uber and Lyft.

The changes came out a transportation steering committee created last year to study the landscape and provide recommendations.

Other reforms include allowing limited cab advertising space and adding curbside taxicab pickup zones downtown.

A sticking point for some was a 24-hour availability requirement, which Commissioner Dave Shaffer called "against the spirit" of a "more fair" playing field - specifically for a small or single-cab operation. 

Others disagreed, noting existing companies found no issue with the requirement, as well as a desire to enforce 24-hour accessibility for residents and visitors.

"[The rule is important] until we have a market where we are sure we have that access," Mayor Rosalynn Bliss says.

An amendment proposing removal of the 24-hour requirement lost by 4-3 vote. Commissioners say it's possible that part could be reviewed if issues are brought. 

The ordinance itself was approved unanimously.

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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