By David Pendered
Atlanta will continue to allow 10-year-old taxis to operate in the city under legislation slated for adoption Monday by the Atlanta City Council.
This is to be the fourth waiver of the age limit on the city’s taxi fleet since Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration began an effort in July 2011 to clean and modernize the city’s fleet of up to 1,600 vehicles for hire.
This effort may gain new life in the council in 2015.
The pending legislation calls on the council’s Public Safety Committee to consider a report on the taxi industry that it says was submitted to Reed’s administration in 2013.
The report is the result of an effort led by Central Atlanta Progress, in conjunction with the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau and Atlanta Committee for Progress. ACP represents the city’s leading civic and business leaders in their effort to promote Atlanta’s economic development.
CAP issued a request for proposals in May 2013 to gather information about the current state of Atlanta’s taxi industry. The report was to include information on possible equipment upgrades, green vehicles, and a specific strategy to implement an array of forward-looking proposals.
The legislation that’s on the council’s consent agenda as the Public Safety Committee amended it now says:
- “WHEREAS, in the 1st Quarter of 2015, the Public Safety and Legal Administration Committee will consider the Taxi Industry Report that was submitted to the Administration in 2013.”
In the years since Reed first called for a sweeping overhaul of Atlanta’s taxi industry, Atlanta has developed a pattern of waiving the age limit on the city’s taxi fleet.
Since December 2012, the council has voted three times to allow older vehicles to operate rather than risk having hundreds of taxis taken off the road because of their age. Monday’s vote is expected to be the fourth waiver.
The reasons over time have been the same as those cited in the paper to be voted on Monday. The proposals tend to cite the most recent legislation that waived the age limit:
- “WHEREAS, in accordance with the scheduled expiration of the temporary increase in the permissible age of taxicabs pursuant to Ordinance 14-0-1338, hundreds of vehicles, currently being operated will be ineligible for operation in the city beginning on January 1, 2015 once the permissible age of a vehicle that may be operated as a taxicab reverts to 8 years; and
- “WHEREAS, as a result, taxi drivers and taxi companies will be required to replace hundreds of vehicles on or before January 1, 2015 in order to maintain current levels of service; and
- “WHEREAS, the City of Atlanta does not desire for taxi drivers and taxi companies to bear such an immediate and costly burden; and
- “WHEREAS, temporarily increasing the permissible age of a vehicle which may be operated as a taxicab in the city from 8 to 10 years will allow hundreds of vehicles currently scheduled to become ineligible on January 1, 2015 to be operated for one more year….”
Sponsors of the legislation over the years have included:
- Councilmember C.T. Martin, who introduced the measure twice: The version up for a vote Monday, and a similar one in 2012;
- Former Councilmember H. Lamar Willis, who sponsored a six-month waiver that covered the first half of 2014;
- Councilmember Michael Julian Bond, who sponsored a six-month waiver approved in July that expires Dec. 31.