Posted by Jeremy Shulkin
While there has been little public comment recently on the taxis vs. liveries debate, it’s come to Worcester Mag‘s attention that in the past month a lot has been happening behind the scenes.
According to a memo sent on July 26 between Police Chief Gary Gemme and City Manager Michael O’Brien, Worcester Police officers have been citing livery drivers for not complying with the 12 hour rule (the one that says liveries can’t pick up passengers unless they’ve requested a ride 12 hours or more in advance). A “multitude” of citations have come out of this, resulting in at least four suspensions (a fifth is pending). We’re playing phone tag with the WPD for more information.
More after the jump:
In that same note (read the Taxi Livery Regulations memo), Gemme suggests at least looking at loosening the restrictions on liveries by suspending enforcement of the 12 hour rule for the month of August, saying that:
The unintended consequence of the 12 hour rule is to drive livery operators underground, creating a new illegal livery industry where operators are unlicensed and vehicles are no longer registered as livery vehicles. Livery operators are using an assortment of personal vehicles in order to serve their clients. The clear public safety concern is that these livery operators and the vehicles they drive are not subjected to the current public safety standards of licensing, inspection, and oversight.
The trade off is that liveries must strictly enforce all the other rules that differentiate them from taxis — most importantly that they can’t pick up hail fairs — and, according to a source familiar with the matter, allow police access to their call log books whenever the WPD decides to pay them a visit. Based on how well the month of August goes for the liveries and police, they may suggest modifying or abolishing the 12 hour law completely.
There’s also an interesting time frame around the story:
-June 21, 2010: Due to multiple infractions of the 12 hour rule between March 12, 2010 and June 1, 2010, Police Chief Gary Gemme notifies Worcester Limo that their operating rights would be suspended from June 27 to July 11
-June 23: Lawyer Douglas Ramsey, representing Worcester Limo, responds to Gemme’s letter, asking for the suspension to be stayed for four weeks because of the short notice
-June 25: Gemme responds that the suspension has been stayed for four weeks, now starting July 25 and lasting until August 8
-July 22: Livery company owners and lobby meet with Gemme at his office
-July 26: Gemme sends memo to the City Manager announcing the suspension of enforcement of the 12 hour rule
-July 28: Gemme and the liveries meet once more to “finalize the deal,” as a source close to the matter describes it
According to Ramsey, the operating suspension against Worcester Limo continues to be stayed, saying it’s “hanging out there, it’s in limbo,” but it hasn’t been enforced yet.
Red Cab could not be reached for comment, but Bill Clark, Sr. at Yellow Cab says a meeting between parties will take place on Tuesday and held off on providing any more information until afterward. He did add, however, that the cab industry completely disagrees with the decision.