East County News Service
November 11, 2014 (San Diego) - San Diego’s City Council on Monday voted 8 to 1 to remove the cap on the number of taxi cab permits issued by the city. Supporters led by Councilwoman Marti Emerald said the limit on caps had created an underground market. Permits issued initially for a $3,000 fee were being resold for up to $140,000—with cab owners passing on costs to drivers, who were forced to work long hours at low wages.
Council also voted to require that cabs be no older than 10 years. In addition, taxi permit holders now need to have only six months of driving or management experience; previously the requirement was five years.
Councilwoman Lorie Zapf cast the only vote against the changes, stating that she believed the changes should be phased in.
According to Metropolitan Transmit Service (MTS) and the Sheriff, 89 percent of taxi drivers in San Diego don’t have their own permits. The system resulted in drivers working dangerously long hours and working while sick. It also discouraged drivers from reporting vehicle damage, according to United Taxi Workers of San Diego.
But opponents say the changes will put more taxis on the street, making it even harder for existing cab companies to compete against new ride-sharing services such as Uber, which currently don’t have to meet the same rules, though a new state law that takes effect next summer will require ride-sharing services to carry insurance. They contend that could result in drivers earning even less.