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COMMISSION VOTES TO BAN CHARGING FOR CAB RIGHTS.

Byline: Patrick McGreevy Daily News Staff Writer

The city Transportation Commission voted Thursday to prohibit hotels and other businesses in Los Angeles from charging taxi companies for exclusive rights to pick up fares.

``For years the hotel industry has been auctioning off exclusive rights and it has been siphoning off millions of dollars that could go to improving dispatch systems and making taxis safer for the public,'' said Commissioner John Shallman.

Taxi companies paid $1.5 million last year to hotels, nightclubs, stores and other business for exclusive operating rights, a city Transportation Department investigation found.

One firm, United Independent Taxi Drivers, paid about $500,000 last year, Shallman said.

``It's outrageous that this money is going to line the pockets of hotel owners,'' Shallman said.

A report by department general manager Bob Yates also said the practice creates an ``unlevel playing field'' of competition because more affluent firms can afford to buy exclusive rights.

The payoffs also have brought into question the need for fare hikes that taxi firms have requested. And they have raised concern that some drivers may be passing on the costs by taking patrons on circuitous routes, transportation officials said.

Dennis Rouse of L.A. Taxi confirmed that his firm has made payments to downtown hotels but said the practice is harmful to the taxi industry and for customers.

``What has been unhealthy is those who couldn't obtain exclusive rights at the curb by performance went out and bought it,'' Rouse said. ``We have always used our service and our performance as currency. We were removed from some of the curbs because our competition bought it.''

The proposed ordinance would allow fines against taxi firms of up to $10,000 for the first offense and $20,000 for the second offense.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 14, 1997
Words:296
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