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East Lansing puts brakes on taxi licenses

Posted by abc on October 9, 2009

More than a third of the way into a three-month moratorium on new licenses for taxi cabs in East Lansing, city officials and area taxi cab companies are trying to come to an agreement on the future of the taxi cab business in the city.

One of the few, coveted parking spaces in downtown East Lansing

“There was an issue of the congestion and because of the congestion there are safety issues,” East Lansing city clerk Nicole Evans said. “Because we have patrons who cross in the middle of the street to try to get a taxi cab, we have taxi cabs that will pull into the middle of the street to get the fare.”
Those concerns led the East Lansing City Council to vote on Aug. 25 to place a 90-day moratorium on the issuance of any new licenses for taxi cabs due to the congestion downtown.

The move was made after a report commissioned city public safety officials raised concerns of taxi cab traffic, particularly in the area on Albert Avenue between Abbott Road and M.A.C. Avenue.

The owners of taxi cab companies operating more than 40 of the vehicles licensed for East Lansing have formed a coalition to work with the city council on alleviating the problem.

“There are a lot of cabs out here, and there aren’t enough spots,” said Chris Fuller, a taxi cab driver for DD’s Downtown Taxi.

Fuller questioned whether the moratorium may have been related to lost revenue related to East Lansing police making fewer drunk driving arrests as a result of the prevalence of cabs in the city.

The East Lansing Police Department reported 464 arrests for drunk driving in 2007, a 17-year high. The numbers from 2007 are the most recent made available by the department.

City officials say they’re concerned with the potential traffic hazard a proliferation of taxi cabs may cause, as well as potential conflicts between cab drivers competing for coveted spots on Albert Avenue.

“We just want to be mindful of the fact that even though they offer this service, that we’re also protecting the safety of those patrons” who use taxi cabs, ” Evans said.

Evans said the East Lansing City Council has approved 110 licenses for taxi cabs, 96 of which are in operation.

For more on this story:

Coverage by The State News

Coverage by the Lansing State Journal

East Lansing taxi cab listings

East Lansing crime statistics report

City of East Lansing guidelines for alcohol and parties

From The State News (2008): Survey finds drunk driving at 8-year low among MSU students

Watch an East Lansing police DUI stop

Mothers Against Drunk Driving statistics

Mothers Against Drunk Driving of Michigan

By Craig Trudell, Brandie Hansen and Michelle Grossman

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