Final proposal for Lynchburg Taxicab regulation revisions (Chapter 37, Lynchburg City Code)

Below is the submission in its entirety.  The wording is chosen to be as accommodating as possible: for example, don’t set things like dollar amounts for fees, or you have to go back and re-write the code to adjust for inflation or market changes.   The most important points are summarized here:

  • Let anyone be a driver who qualifies and has a car that is safe.  Set standards for both the driver and the cars.
  • Add language such that drivers cannot discriminate against anyone based on race, religion, culture, gender, or other lifestyle preference.
  • Allow for the continued use of taximeters with the current regulations including standardized fares, but allow for alternate methods of setting a fare, provided an estimate of that fare is given to the rider before they agree to the ride (which can now be done with a modern app but couldn’t when these laws were written).  

I am particularly proud of this last one, as if preserves our current taxi system exactly as it is, but allows it to attract newer customers and adopt more modern systems as desired.

 

Proposed Revisions to Lynchburg City Code Chapter 37. Taxicabs.

 

 Sec. 37-17. Authority of city manager generally.

 The inspection of taxicabs, the sealing of taximeters and the examination of applicants for certificates shall be under the control and jurisdiction of the city manager. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-2)

Proposal:

 “The city manager shall have control and jurisdiction to manage directly or delegate authority to another city official to oversee the regulations of taxicab services including the qualification and certification of drivers, the inspection of vehicles, the use and verification of taximeters or other fare-calculating system as appropriate.”

 

Sec. 37-18. Appointment of taxicab inspector.

 The city manager may designate a person from the personnel of the department of police to act as taxicab inspector as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this article. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-3)

Proposal:  Remove (unnecessary).

 

Sec. 37-20. Compliance with article prerequisite to advertisement as taxicab operator.

 No person shall use the term taxi or taxicab in advertising, nor shall any person hold himself out to the public as a taxi or taxicab owner, or represent himself to be such by means of advertisement, sign, trade name, or otherwise, unless such person shall have previously thereto complied with the regulations and requirements of this article. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-28)

Proposal:  Remove (unnecessary).

 

Sec. 37-25. Restriction on number of passengers.

No driver shall permit more than five (5) persons, other than the driver, to be carried in a taxicab. A child in arms shall not be counted as an additional person. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-12)

Last updated date: 10/23/2006 4:15:21 PM

Proposal:

 “No driver shall permit more total passengers including the driver than the vehicle was designed to accommodate.  All passengers and the driver must be appropriately restrained at all times in a proper seat with all unmodified DOT approved safety devices including seatbelts that were originally installed when the vehicle was produced.  All DOT approved safety options including seat belts and airbags as provided upon original manufacture of the vehicle must be in full working order for all passengers and driver.  A vehicle used as a taxicab shall adhere to all applicable state and federal regulations.

 Children must be transported in accordance with all federal and state regulations including the use of infant or child booster seats as appropriate, and these seats must be secured in a manner compliant with all vehicle and restraint manufacturer recommendations in the appropriate location within the vehicle to assure maximum safety of all passengers.  Drivers may at any time be asked by police or city officials to demonstrate knowledge of the use and installation of any supplemental safety equipment for the transportation of children, regardless of the presence of a parent or guardian.”  

 

Sec. 37-28. Type of vehicle required.

 Taxicabs operated within the city shall be of a closed or sedan type with at least four (4) doors and of not less than five (5) passenger capacity. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-16)

Proposal:

“Vehicles operated within the city as taxicabs shall be of safe working order with current Virginia safety inspection, even if registered in another state and not requiring a Virginia safety inspection for private use.  The number of passengers shall not exceed fifteen (15).  A method of communicating the characteristics of the vehicle to potential passengers prior to scheduling transportation shall be established using either telephone or a form of electronic messaging to include: the total number of possible passengers, the configuration of the car, the ability or inability to safely restrain children, and/or the ability or inability to carry additional baggage.”

 

Sec. 37-31. Drivers’ manifests.

  • Every driver shall maintain a daily manifest upon which is recorded all trips made each day, showing the time and place of origin and destination of each trip and amount of fare. All such completed manifests shall be returned to the owner by the driver at the conclusion of his hours of duty. The forms for each manifest shall be furnished to the driver by the owner and shall be of a character approved by the city manager.

 (b) Every holder of a certificate shall retain and preserve all drivers’ manifests in a safe place for at least one year and such manifests shall be subject to inspection by the city manager and by personnel of the division of police. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-19)

Proposal:

“Every driver shall maintain a record of all trips to include time, place of pickup, destination, and fare charged, and the manner of transaction (cash, bank card, electronic transfer, etc.).  This information shall be retained for at least one year, and shall at any time be inspected by the city manager and/or personnel of the division of police.”

 

 

Sec. 37-44. Refusal to accept calls or passengers; failure or refusal to give overall service.

 The holder of a certificate who shall refuse to accept a call anywhere within the city or refuse to accept a passenger for delivery to any place within the city or within one mile of the city when such holder has available a taxicab or who shall fail or refuse to give overall service shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and the certificate granted to such holder shall be suspended or revoked at the discretion of the city manager subject to the provisions of sections 37-74 through 37-77, unless driver can articulate a reasonable concern for his/her personal safety or unless repeated incidences of a taxi having been previously called to that address which calls turned out to be false calls for a fare.  (Tax Code 1959, § 31-31; Ord. No. O-05-103, 8-9-05)

Proposal:

“Any taxicab driver who fails to provide service based on a passenger’s race, religion, culture, gender, or other lifestyle preference without other justification shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and the certificate granted to such holder shall be suspended or revoked at the discretion of the city manager subject to the provisions of sections 37-74 through 37-77, unless driver can articulate a reasonable concern for his/her personal safety or unless repeated incidences of a taxi having been previously called by such passenger which turned out to be false calls for a fare.”  

 

 Sec. 37-54. Required.

No person shall operate or cause to be operated any taxicab upon the streets of the city without first having obtained a certificate from the city council. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-36)

Proposal:

“No person shall operate or cause to be operated any taxicab upon the streets of the city without first having obtained a certificate from the city as overseen by the city manager.”

 

Sec. 37-55. Application generally.

An application for a certificate shall be filed in duplicate with the city manager and shall be verified under oath and shall furnish the following information.

 (a) The name, and address of the applicant and shall state that the applicant is at least twenty-one (21) y ears of age.

 (b) The trade name under which the applicant does or proposes to do business.

 (c) If the applicant is a corporation, the officers, directors and principal stockholders of the corporation.

 (d) The financial status of the applicant, including the amounts of all unpaid judgments against the applicant and the nature of the transaction or acts giving rise to such judgments.

 (e) The experience of the applicant in the transportation of passengers.

 (f) Any facts which the applicant believes tend to prove that public convenience and necessity require the granting of a certificate.

 (g) The number of vehicles desired to be operated by the applicant, the location of proposed depots and terminals, and the parking or garage facilities thereat.

 (h) The color scheme or insignia to be used to designate the vehicle or vehicles of the applicant.

 (i) Such further information required by the city manager and which may be relevant and pertinent to the matter of the issuance of a certificate.

 (j) In the event two (2) or more persons, not operating as a corporation or partnership and who own or propose to own individually one or more taxicabs, associate together for the purpose of operating taxicabs under one trade name, each such person shall file an application for a certificate with the city manager and shall, in addition to the information required above, give the names and addresses of the other person or persons who are associating together to operate under such trade name, and the number of cabs to be operated by each such person. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-37; Ord. No. O-96-136, 5-14-96)

Proposed:

An application for a certificate shall be filed with the city and shall furnish the following information.

(a) The name, birthdate, age, and address of the applicant. 

(b) The trade name under which the applicant does or proposes to do business. 

(c) If the applicant is a corporation, the officers, directors and principal stockholders of the corporation.

(d) The financial status of the applicant, including the amounts of all unpaid judgments against the applicant and the nature of the transaction or acts giving rise to such judgments.

(e) The experience of the applicant in the transportation of passengers.

(f) Any facts which the applicant believes tend to prove that public convenience and necessity require the granting of a certificate.

(g) The number of vehicles desired to be operated by the applicant, the location of proposed depots and terminals, and the parking or garage facilities thereat, if applicable.

(h) The color scheme or insignia to be used to designate the vehicle or vehicles of the applicant.

(i) Such further information required by the city manager and which may be relevant and pertinent to the matter of the issuance of a certificate.

(j) In the event two (2) or more persons, not operating as a corporation or partnership and who own or propose to own individually one or more taxicabs, associate together for the purpose of operating taxicabs under one trade name, each such person shall file an application for a certificate with the city manager and shall, in addition to the information required above, give the names and addresses of the other person or persons who are associating together to operate under such trade name, and the number of cabs to be operated by each such person. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-37; Ord. No. O-96-136, 5-14-96) 

Last updated date: 10/23/2006 4:15:21 PM

 

Also proposed: update application including online version.

 

Sec. 37-56. Public hearings on applications.

Proposal: remove (unnecessary).

 

Sec. 37-58. City manager’s recommendations to council as to issuance or denial.

… (Tax Code 1959, § 31-40)

Proposal: remove (unnecessary):

 

Sec. 37-59. Factors considered in making findings.

Proposal: remove (unnecessary).

 

Sec. 37-60. Applicants to whom city manager may not recommend issuance.

 The city manager shall not recommend the issuance of a certificate to any applicant for a certificate under the age of twenty-one (21) years, or who is not of good moral character or personally fit to conduct a taxicab business, or who shall have been convicted within five (5) years prior to the date of the hearing of violating any provision of Code of Virginia, Title 4, relating to transportation of liquors or relating to the sale, transportation, possession or distribution of any other controlled substance, or who shall have been convicted of a serious misdemeanor or felony within a period of five (5) years prior to the date of the hearing provided for in section 37-56. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-42; Ord. No. O-96-136 5-14-96)

Proposal: Discuss Sec. 37-60:

  • Current standard: twenty-one (21) years old. This is not a state requirement for taxicabs (it is for TNCs).  Are 18 year-olds with clean record suitable drivers?  Additional training or demonstration of more substantial experience without incident?  If we change the code to say 18, we do have more flexibility.

NOTE: In regards to the app, the Taxicab driver requirements are minimums.  For example, permission to use the app could require a more in-depth background check (and probably will), but it doesn’t work the other way.    

 

Sec. 37-61. To be granted only to owner.

No certificate shall be granted to any person unless he is the owner of the taxicab or taxicabs proposed to be operated pursuant to the certificate for which application is made. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-43)

Proposal: remove (driver should not be required to own vehicle):

 

Sec. 37-64. Term; expiration for thirty-day failure to operate business.

Proposal: remove (beyond maintenance of driver qualification, vehicle certification and proper insurance coverage, no additional restrictions should be leveraged)

 

Sec. 37-66. License for operation of business—Certificate prerequisite to issuance.

 No license to operate a taxicab business within the city shall be issued to any person unless such person shall first have obtained a certificate from the city council. No additional certificate shall be required for the purpose of obtaining licenses so long as the original certificate remains in effect. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-4)

Proposal: remove (unnecessary).

 

 Sec. 37-67. Same—Procedure as to issuance.

 Upon presentation of a certificate within thirty (30) days of its date to the commissioner of the revenue and upon satisfactory evidence that the holder of such certificate has complied with the provisions of sections 37-68 and 37-69 and upon payment of the license fee required under the applicable section of the tax code of the city, the commissioner of the revenue shall issue to the holder of such certificate a license to operate a taxicab business within the city. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-5)

Proposal: remove (unnecessary).

 

Sec. 37-68. Insurance or bond—Required.

 No certificate shall be issued until the applicant therefor shall submit satisfactory evidence to the city manager that he has filed with the state corporation commission such insurance policy, letter of credit or bond covering such liability or property damage as may be required by state law. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-6; Ord. No. O-96-136, 5-14-96)

Proposal:

“No one shall operate any taxicab or other vehicle for the transportation of passengers whether for hire or as a volunteer without obtaining minimal necessary insurance coverage for said operation.”

 

Sec. 37-71. Procedure when additional taxicabs required.

…. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-48)

Proposal: remove (unnecessary).

 

Sec. 37-76. Same—Term of suspension.

Any certificate suspended shall not be suspended for less than ten (10) days nor more than thirty (30) days. (Code 1959, § 31-53)

 Proposal: remove (leave to city manager / city council).

 

Sec. 37-77. Same—Reissue after revocation.

 Any certificate revoked shall not be reissued to the same person under any circumstances for a term of at least one (1) year after the effective date of such revocation. (Code 1959, § 31-54)

Proposal:  remove (leave to city manager / city council).

 

Sec. 37-86. Fee.

 A fee of fifty dollars ($50.00) shall be paid to the city for processing and investigating the applicant, which fee shall be nonrefundable. (Code 1959, § 31-55; Ord. No. O-90-093, 3-27-90, eff. 7-1-90; Ord. No. O-95-206, 7-11-95, eff. 9-1-95)

Proposed:

“A fee may be required by the city for processing and investigating the applicant, and such fee shall be nonrefundable.”

 

Sec. 37-87. Term; renewal.

 Original registration of a driver shall expire one year from date of issue, unless sooner revoked. All such registrations shall be renewed annually on or before the driver’s date of birth each year. Such renewal registration shall continue for one year following, unless sooner revoked. (Code 1959, § 31-55; Ord. No. O-91-050, 3-26-91)

Proposal:

“Periodic review of a driver’s qualifications, license, and records shall be performed at an interval deemed appropriate by the city manager, and such review may be undertaken at any time if just cause for such investigation is presented such as an accident report or criminal conviction of a currently registered driver, whether related to such employment or not.”

 

Sec. 37-92. Registration cards.

 Every taxicab driver registered by the chief of police under the provisions of this division shall be furnished with a card signed by the chief of police certifying to his registration, which card shall contain a photograph of the taxicab driver made by the police division. Such card shall be conspicuously displayed in a manner directed by the chief of police in the taxicab at all times that the same is in charge of such driver. No driver shall drive a taxicab upon the streets of the city until he shall have secured a registration card from the chief of police. (Code 1959, § 31-60)

Proposal:

“Every taxicab driver registered by the chief of police under the provisions of this division shall be furnished with a card signed by the chief of police certifying to his registration, which card shall contain a photograph of the taxicab driver made by the police division. Such card shall be conspicuously displayed in a manner directed by the chief of police in the taxicab at all times that the same is in charge of such driver. No driver shall drive a taxicab upon the streets of the city until he shall have secured a registration card from the chief of police. This card shall be either on display or readily available for inspection by passengers or police at all times while operating a vehicle as a taxicab.”

 

Sec. 37-95. Same—Term.

 In the event of revocation or suspension of registration of a driver, other than mandatory revocation, such suspension or revocation shall be for a period fixed by the chief of police or the judge of the municipal court upon appeal, but not exceeding one (1) year. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-64)

Proposal:

In the event of revocation or suspension of registration of a driver, other than mandatory revocation, such suspension or revocation shall be for a period fixed by the chief of police or the judge of the municipal court upon appeal, but not exceeding one (1) year.

 

Sec. 37-105. Required.

 All taxicabs operating under this article shall be equipped with taximeters fastened to the taxicab in front of the passengers, visible to them at all times of the day and night; and, after sundown, the face of the taximeter shall be illuminated. (Tax Code 1959, § 31-68)

Proposed:

Sec. 37-105. Method of determining fare: use of Taximeters or alternate method.

Taxicabs must operate using one of the following methods:

(a) Drivers may utilize a Taximeter for determining the applied fare for the ride. If operating under this method, vehicles shall be equipped with taximeters fastened to the taxicab in front of the passengers, visible to them at all times of the day and night; and, after sundown, the face of the taximeter shall be illuminated.  The device shall be verified and maintained according to Sections 37-107 and 37-108.  The applied fare shall be determined using rates as defined in Section 37-109 Rates.

(b) Drivers may utilize an alternate method for setting fares including some combination of a minimum fare, base fare, rate per mile, and/or rare per minute as calculated or predicted using a navigational computer, BUT an estimate of this fare must be displayed to the passenger PRIOR to engaging with the driver for hire. If the actual fare exceeds the previously agreed upon estimated fare by more than 20% due to traffic or some other computational error and the driver does not correct the fare at the time of payment, the passenger will have thirty (30) days to request in writing a refund for this additional amount, to be paid by the driver within thirty (30) days from receipt of this request.

 

Proposal:

Sec. 37-106. Signal device, if Taximeter utilized under Sec. 37-105 (a).

 

Sec. 37-107. Inspection generally; procedure in case of inaccuracy if Taximeter utilized under Sec. 37-105 (a).

 

Sec. 37-108. Rules and regulations as to inspection and sealing if Taximeter utilized under Sec. 37-105 (a).

 

Sec. 37-109. Rates if Taximeter utilized under Sec. 37-105 (a).

 

 

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