Words, numbers and symbols on on Yellow Cab Coop vehicles, photo by Charles Rathbone

Business and Regulation

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Evolving solutions for universal service

Featured items for managers

  • Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 - CDC Interim Guidance April 8, 2020

  • Price wars are rare in the taxi industry but history does offer an example from 1949 in Hawthorne, California. Rates dropped from 30-cents per mile to an unsustainable flat rate of 10-cents per ride. The winner of the price war was the company that threatened to lower prices to just 1-cent per ride but who in fact reduced his prices by the least amount of all the competitors. The author applies lessons from the taxi price war to resolving real wars. Taxicab Rate War: Counterpart of International Conflict (free JSTOR subscription required.)

A driver license print-out with identifying information redacted

A perfect print-out

  • Download this Taxicab Rate-of-Fare Designer, an XLS worksheet that allows easy design, comparison and graphic charting of any two traditional taxicab rates of fare based on time and distance. The worksheet opens with the Excel spreadsheet program. See also NIST Handbook 44 - Taximeters Code which describes the U.S. requirements for accurate measurement and transparent calculation of metered taxicab fares. This technical document underlies important consumer protections for taxicab customers.

Line chart shows how fares increase over distance

A chart comparing San Francisco's 2003 rate of fare with an alternative rate of fare

  • Managing in the Aftermath of Disaster: What do you do when tragedy strikes and the phone is ringing off the hook? Read this thought-provoking account of what may be expected of a manager in times of crisis. Diamond Taxicab Dispatch Services general manager Jim Bell recounts the events following the death of driver Tahir Khan in a Toronto car wreck that captured the attention of the national media.

  • Notes, Quotes and Anecdotes: this delightful and often hilarious collection from researcher Norman Beattie is a goldmine for speakers

Risk reduction

  • How to read an insurance policy and other guides to buying business insurance, courtesy of the Insurance Bureau of Canada
  • Taxi Drivers and Road Safety, a 1997 study from the Australian Federal Office of Road Safety. From the Executive Summary: "The major findings indicate that anger and risk-taking are important predictors of taxi driver accidents, with increased anger expression and increased risk-taking being related to a greater likelihood of involvement in accidents. Average length of shifts and vehicle type were also significant predictors of accident involvement." (674KB pdf)
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute, crash tests and ratings

Rooftop ad on a yellow taxicab asks - Tired of lying to your insurance company? Photo by Charles Rathbone.

Photo: August 2016 driver recruitment ad atop a San Francisco taxicab was directed to TNC drivers.

San Francisco Taxi Coalition

The San Francisco Taxi Coalition formed to oppose policies implemented by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency in early 2019. The policies treat three groups of taxicabs differently, especially regarding access to busy airport taxi stands. Plaintiffs filed suit in SF Superior Court, which referred the case to the US District Court for Northern California. The court ruled in favor of SFMTA, and plaintiffs appealed to the US Court of Appeals For the Ninth Circuit. Read the Appellants' Opening Brief filed by the SF Taxi Coalition in November 2019.

California Public Utilities Commission

Throughout 2011-2020 the ongoing TNC proceeding at the California Public Utilities Commission continued to generate filings from dozens of interested parties. Among the hundreds of publicly accessible documents are exhaustive legal discussions of virtually every aspect of Transportation Network Company regulation. The documents are on the CPUC Documents Page for Proceeding R1212011.

The California Public Utilities Commission conducted a Rulemaking Proceeding on "Regulations Relating to Passenger Carriers, Ridesharing, and New Online-Enabled Transportation Services" from December 2012 to September 2013.

The process focused on public safety and innovation regarding companies such as Uber, Lyft, Tickengo (now Wingz), and Sidecar (now defunct). The Commission decided to create a new class of for-hire service called "Transportation Network Companies" and established rules on September 19, 2013.

Filings included the CPUC's Order Instituting Rulemaking and the formal comments of:

Many additional comments and replies from the various parties are available under the Documents tab on the Proceeding Details page of the CPUC web site.

The California Public Utilities Commission will conduct a rehearing on certain parts of its September 2013 Decision on Transportation Network Companies. Issues to be reviewed include insurance, drug testing, commercial license plates, and the status of Uber as a TNC. The rehearing is in response to requests filed in October 2013 by the Taxicab Paratransit Association of California and by Uber Technologies. (Note that this item is different from the Request for Comments on Proposed Modifications described in the block below.)

The California Public Utilities Commission issued a Request for Comments on Proposed Modifications to its TNC insurance requirements and other changes on March 25, 2014. Among the responses delivered to the Proceeding Service List in early April are the Initial Comments of:

The documents along with expected Response Comments appear in their official formats under the Documents tab on the CPUC Proceeding Page.

In June 2014 the California Public Utilities Commission continued its attempt to regulate TNC "rideshares" by issuing Proposed Modifications which would have strengthened its previous insurance requirements. However the Proposed Modifications were weakened substantially in early July prior to a hearing, and then were not acted upon. The CPUC may revisit TNC insurance in August 2014. Before the July revisions, various parties to the proceeding filed comments and reply comments regarding TNC insurance.

The documents appear in their official formats under the Documents tab on the CPUC Proceeding Page.

Many states have issued formal notices warning about inadequate insurance in ride services such as those operated by Uber and Lyft. Click on the following links for twenty examples: California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah.

2018 documents

  • The Cost of Convenience from the Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, October 2018. "The arrival of ridesharing is associated with an increase of 2-3% in the number of motor vehicle fatalities and fatal accidents. This increase is not only for vehicle occupants, but also for pedestrians."

New York City medallion transfers

Sales and foreclosures are recorded on the Taxi and Limousine Commission website along with nominal medallion prices. The TLC advises that the recorded prices may not reflect actual market conditions.

Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court

The California Supreme Court has established a new test to determine if a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. All workers are presumed to be employees unless three conditions are met. The worker must be free from control and direction in the performance of the work, and must perform work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business, and must be engaged in an independently established trade or business. April 2018.

The striking graphic in the ad shows a black cat with extended wings leaping over an old-fashioned image of a smiling sun.

Print ads for early motorized taxi service

The ad shows a very early Renault taxicab.

2017 documents

Map of SF showing the density of TNC activity

The interactive map accompanying the TNCs Today report shows pick-up and drop-off volumes throughout San Francisco.

Taxicab vehicles

A woman casts a curious glance at a futuristic taxi as it passes by

-Courtesy of the Design Trust for Public Space

The MiniModal concept taxi for NYC by Hybrid Product Design + Development. It features large glass windows and roof panels to offer passengers better views. The MiniModal is one of several fascinating design innovations emerging from the exhibit Rethinking New York City's Moveable Public Space at Parsons The New School for Design from November 2005 through January 2006.

2016 documents

 Photo courtesy of FreeFoto.com

Yellow 831 begins the steep descent down California Street toward the San Francisco Financial District.

2015 documents

Map of Safer Market Street shows turn restrictions at intersections

Red arrows indicate turn restrictions for private vehicles at intersections along San Francisco's pedestrian-friendly Safer Market Street, August 2015. Taxis retain full access to the busy thoroughfare along with buses, bikes and delivery trucks.

Poster with illustrations of pedestrians says Watch For Me, Yield To people in crosswalks, It's the law

July 2015 pedestrian safety campaign in Asheville, North Carolina.

2014 documents

Official photo of California Assembly member Susan Bonilla

California Assembly Member Susan Bonilla became the object of negative political ads when she introduced the first legislation that established insurance requirements for Uber. Governor Brown signed her legislation, Assembly Bill 2293, into law in September 2014.

Ominous image and message - If your minicab is not booked, it is just a strangers car

Graphic for the Cabwise app from Transport for London.

2013 documents

Internet Advocacy ’Uber’ Alles: What Uber-Fans Accomplished in Boston & What It Means for Urban Democracy & Local Government. This insightful paper by Harvard law school student Molly Cohen is must-read for taxi industry participants who face organized social media campaigns by wealthy elites. Ms. Cohen presented her views at the October 2013 TLPA conference in Boston.

A night scene of a black town car and a yellow taxicab next to each other on a rain soaked street
- Digiart2001 | jason.kuffer | Flickr 2013

For-hire vehicles include limousines and taxicabs. Regulations for each are challenged by commercial "rideshares" and other taxi-like services that claim exemption from regulation.

  • Passenger transport in isolated communities is written evidence to the UK Parliament Transport Select Committee from Samuel Fisher's Fare Enough campaign regarding working conditions of for-hire drivers in northern UK communities. According to the testimony, a private hire driver often earns no more than £2.00 per hour for a 50 hour week. Prepared September 23, 2013.

American Journal of Preventive Medicine
June 11, 2013
Effectiveness of Taxicab Security Equipment in Reducing Driver Homicide Rates

Cammie K. Chaumont Menéndez, PhD, Harlan E. Amandus, PhD, Parisa Damadi, BS, Nan Wu, MS, Srinivas Konda, MPH, Scott A. Hendricks, MS

(Am J Prev Med 2013;45(1):1-8)

From page 5 of the article:

"These data support the hypothesis that installing cameras in taxicabs results in a reduction in citywide taxicab driver homicide rates post-installation (seven times lower homicide rate) and compared to cities with neither cameras nor partitions (three times lower homicide rate). The data do not support the hypothesis that cities with partitions installed in taxicabs experience lower taxicab driver homicide rates than cities with neither cameras nor partitions. This is the first study to methodically collect data from a nationally representative sample of the largest taxicab cities over a 15-year time span that allows for comparison of rates pre- and post-installation of cameras."

See also a related article by the same authors "Cities with camera-equipped taxicabs experience reduced taxicab driver homicide rates: United States, 1996 - 2010"

Two Lyft-branded vehicles at a hotel

Unregulated Lyft "moustache cabs" wait for fares in front of licensed taxis at a San Francisco hotel.

  • The Austin (Texas) Transportation Department prepared a Rideshare Report for the Mayor and City Council issued on May 31, 2013. The report examined rideshare regulations in other places and includes the results of the department's own investigation of commercial rideshare operations in Austin.
  • The Center on Policy Initiatives of San Diego State University issued a May 2013 report titled Driven to Despair: A Survey of San Diego Taxi Drivers. Based on self-reporting, the study says that drivers make less than $5 per hour.
  • In April 2013 the Colorado Supreme Court reversed a district court ruling affirming the denial of Mile High Cab's application for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. The case was remanded to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. A Recommended Decision was issued December 10, 2013.
  • Kareem Haggag and Giovanni Paci authored a discussion paper for the Department of Economics at Columbia University titled Default Tips. The March 2013 study examined 13 million credit card transactions in New York City taxicabs. The authors determined that the default tips suggested to passengers on rear-seat terminals have a large impact on tip amounts. Generally tip amounts are higher, but the authors "highlight a potential cost of setting defaults too high, as a higher proportion of customers opt to leave no credit card tip when presented with the higher suggested amounts."
  • A lawsuit pitting Taxicab Companies versus the Philadelphia Parking Authority was decided in favor of the cab companies who said that the PPA exceeded its fee-setting authority. From the decision: "Because Section 5707(b) confers autocratic power upon the Philadelphia Parking Authority to condemn property without due process, it offends the due process provisions of the Pennsylvania and United States Constitutions." (February 2013)

Taxi with many screens installed for different hailing apps

Spoof of taxi hailing apps, many of which require a separate screen dedicated exclusively to that app.

2012 documents

  • Matt Daus and law firm Windels Marx in conjunction with the International Association of Transportation Regulators released "Proposed Model Regulations for Smartphone Applications in the For-Hire Industry". (November 2012)
  • In November the California Public Utilities Commission issued citations and $20,000 fines to unlicensed passenger carriers Uber, Sidecar and Lyft for "public safety violations." The actions follow on cease-and-desist notices to Sidecar and Lyft in August 2012 and a cease-and-desist notice to Uber from the CPUC's Consumer Safety and Protection Division in October 2010.
  • The Taxicab, Limousine and Paratransit Association released a Rouge App Media Briefer in September 2012 outlining problems with taxi-like services using smartphone apps outside of taxicab regulations. Also in September, the New York City TLC issued an Industry Notice advising that smartphone apps are not approved for use in New York City taxicabs.
  • In an August 2012 decision by Judge Arthur Engoron, the Supreme Court of New York State ruled against New York City's plan to expand hail cab service to outer boroughs. The ruling was based in part on Mayor Michael Bloomberg's failure to get city council approval for the plan. The lawsuit that led to the decision is Taxicab Service Association vs Bloomberg. The plaintiff is an association of credit union lenders that finance yellow taxi medallions. Update: Judge Engoron's decision was overturned in June 2013 by the New York State Court of Appeals on the grounds that the outer borough taxi plan was not a merely local issue. "Efficient transportation services in the state's largest city and international center of commerce is important to the entire state." The June 2013 ruling opens the door to issuance of 16,000 hail-cab permits in the boroughs and 2,000 wheelchair accessible yellow cab medallions.

Country taxi depots in the area around Melbourne

Map of taxi depots (service providers) in the country area surrounding Melbourne, Victoria in Australia.

  • Windels Marx has published a new report entitled "Rogue" Smartphone Applications for Taxicabs and Limousines: Innovation or Unfair Competition? The report is a "national regulatory review of safety, accountability and consumer protection legal issues" authored by Matthew W. Daus, a Partner and Chair of the Transportation group, with the assistance of the group's lawyers and staff, including Special Counsel Pasqualino Russo, a former NYC TLC Chief Judge. (June 2012)
  • The US Court of Appeals decision Christopher Noel versus New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission states that the Americans with Disabilities Act "does not obligate the TLC to use its licensing and regulatory authority over the New York City taxi industry to require that taxi owners provide meaningful access to taxis for persons with disabilities." (June 2012)
  • Louisiana Senate Bill 639 elevates to first-degree murder the killing of a taxicab driver. The law was signed by the Governor June 7, 2012 and becomes effective August 1, 2012.

Sheree and William Kerner

"He's my best friend and he's my hero" said Sheree Kerner of her brother, New Orleans taxicab driver William L. Kerner IV. His death in a May 2011 robbery led to passage of SB 639 which elevated the killing of a taxicab driver to first-degree murder in Louisiana.

  • In The Driver's Seat: Achieving justice for taxi drivers in Victoria is a June 2012 report that documents the work of the Taxi Driver Legal Clinic, a joint project conducted by the Federation of Community Legal Centres (Victoria, Australia) and Footscray Community Legal Centre. It recommends that the Victorian Government should prohibit the use of bailment agreements in the taxi industry.
  • Reforming the law of taxi and private hire services is the May 2012 summary report by the Law Commission (UK). A key recommendation is to prevent local transportation regulators from limiting the number of taxis in their jurisdictions. More detail can be found in the full report and in the impact assessment.
  • Preliminary Findings, Taxi Driver Labor Market Study: Long Hours, Low Wages, is a January 2012 report from the City of Portland (Oregon) Revenue Bureau, Office of Management and Finance. The report was prepared at the request of the Mayor in response to a permit application for a driver-owned taxi company. The applicants cited poor economic and working conditions. The report is notable for its methodology, which extends beyond self-reporting of driver earnings.
  • Germantown Cab Company vs Philadelphia Parking Authority is a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision of January 20, 2012 that constrains the PPA by requiring the agency to follow statutory rulemaking procedures generally applicable to Commonwealth agencies.
  • Charles Komanoff argues that adding one more taxi is the traffic equivalent of adding 40 more cars to New York City's Central Business District. See his work on 2,000 New Medallion Taxicabs which includes a link to a spreadsheet model. He presented his case in a January 20, 2012 article More taxis mean more traffic.

Reports of special interest from Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates

2011 documents

About 30 participants pose for a group photo UN Photo

Participants pose for a group photo at the Expert Group Meeting in Rio de Janeiro, May 2011, on the Greening of the Latin American Taxi Fleet.

Special Report: Greening Taxis in Latin America

Presentations from the Expert Group Meeting in Rio de Janeiro, May 2011 on Sustainable Urban Transport: Policy Options for Modernizing and Greening Taxi Fleets in Latin American Cities. The meeting generated a wealth of information from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador and Mexico. The presentations also cover a wide range of topics including electric taxis in China, solar-powered bicycle taxis in Germany, motorized rickshaws in India, and greening in California and Korea.

  • French v QBE Insurance, decision by the Supreme Court of Queensland awarding substantial damages following the death of a very drunk taxi passenger who was hit by a car after being let out at the wrong address. Extract from the decision: "The very reason that Mr Crouch was in the taxi, the reason that he was in Mr Earea's care, was that he was not capable of looking after his own safety or finding his own way home. Mr Earea must have realised this when he accepted the hiring. Had he turned an objective mind to the question he would have realised that if he delivered Mr Crouch to the wrong address (and not into anyone's care), there was a substantial likelihood that Mr Crouch would wander onto the carriageway and be hit by a vehicle."

Printed card explains the rate of fare

Rate of fare as displayed in San Francisco taxicabs, September 2011.

2010 documents

An anxious-looking woman rides in a shared taxi that has a damaged windshield
- UN Photo/Sophia Paris, March 2010, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Haiti "Cash for Work" Employee Relies on Tap-Tap Taxi -- A local supervisor for "Cash for Work", an initiative launched by the United Nations Development Programme in the aftermath of Haiti's earthquake, relies on a tap-tap, a shared taxi, to take her home from work. Haiti has an almost non-existent public transportation system. Many people depend on the privately-owned tap-taps for transportation even though they are often overloaded, mechanically unsound, and driven unsafely.

  • Driving Austin, Driving Injustice is a February 2010 report on the working conditions of taxi drivers in Austin, Texas. It is published by Legal Assistance to Micro-Enterprises, a project of Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid. The report depends on self-reporting for its findings that the average driver makes $2.75 an hour and works 12 hours a day, 6.5 days a week, 51.5 weeks per year. (3.5MB PDF)
  • Medallion Reforms in San Francisco adopted February 2010 by the Municipal Transportation Agency. The reforms allow for the sale at a fixed price of a limited number of taxicab medallions by the city and by medallion holders who are disabled or who are over 70 years old. (125KB PDF)

First medallion sale in San Francisco follwing a change in regulations.

Deputy Director of Taxi Services Chris Hayashi (left) and MTA Executive Director Nat Ford (right) look on as seller Mildred Megarity transfers her taxi medallion to buyer Ahmad Sidaoui on August 4, 2010. It was the first sale of a taxi medallion in San Francisco for 33 years. See more photos and a write-up on Ed Healy's blog. Photo courtesy of Ed Healy.

2009 documents

Seatbelts save lives, buckle up every time

Seatbelt reminder from the City of Auburn in New South Wales

2008 documents

  • Flyer by United Taxicab Drivers Corp. urging Nevada taxicab drivers to demand enforcement of the minimum wage requirement.
  • Summary judgment regarding disabled medallion holders in US District Court, June 2008, affirming the City of San Francisco's policy that driving as an Essential Eligibility Requirement does not violate a disabled medallion holder's rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The decision was appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
  • Santa Monica Taxi Study: Executive Summary, a 2008 report for the City of Santa Monica, California. The study reviewed the city's open-entry taxi system. See also the 80-page full report.
  • Taxi '07: Roads Forward, a comprehensive 150-page vision for New York City taxis in the next decade. This beautifully illustrated book in PDF format is another outstanding taxi publication from the Design Trust for Public Space produced in conjunction with the Taxicab and Limousine Commission. Highly recommended.
  • Toronto Taxi Drivers: Ambassadors of the City, A Report on Working Conditions by Sara Abraham, Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto, and Aparna Sundar, Assistant Professor at Ryerson University, with Dale Whitmore, student at York University. The report drew attention for its determination that shift drivers earn less than three dollars an hour.
  • January 2008 US Court of Appeals decision in NLRB vs Friendly Cab determining that drivers at an Oakland (California) taxi company are employees for purposes of the National Labor Relations Act. (111KB pdf)

Brightly colored three-wheel mini-taxi

- UN Photo by Mark Garten, November 2008 - Bogra, Bangladesh

Rural Development Programme Beneficiary -- A taxi entrepreneur and beneficiary of the Grameen Bank project for poverty eradication through micro credit lending, waits for a fare.

2007 documents

Controller Reports and Ballot Measures have played a large role in the San Francisco cab business between the late 1970s and 2017. Following are links to controller reports as well as summaries of eleven taxi-related matters that have been placed before the voters along with links to the full text of each.

San Francisco Controller's reports

San Francisco Ballot Measures 1978 - 2007

Taxi regulation in San Francisco was heavily influenced by a corporate meltdown in 1976 that led to a year of scarce taxi service and a controversial permit-trading deal in City Hall. See Taxis and SF Labor History for a brief summary of the crisis. In the wake of the crisis, a pair of competing taxi reform measures appeared on the ballot submitted to voters in 1978. Proposition K won with almost 51% of the vote. "Prop K" has shaped every aspect of the taxi business since that time.

The voters have been asked to revisit the issue numerous times since 1978. Propositions D in 1998 and A in 2007 won approval, while eight other propositions lost.

All the documents in this section are extracts from the ballot handbooks mailed to voters prior to the elections. They are in PDF format with file size under 1MB except as noted.

Chart showing the percentage of Yes votes for each measure

  • Proposition P of November 1981 sought to repeal Prop K and transfer regulation to the Board of Supervisors. This document includes the official ballot statement and the published arguments pro-and-con. See also the complete legal text of the proposition.
  • Proposition P of November 1988 sought to repeal Prop K, but would have retained key elements such as non-transferability of permits. This document includes the official ballot statement and the complete legal text. See also the paid arguments pro-and-con that were published along with the proposition.

Chart showing the number of Yes votes for each measure

  • Proposition Y of November 1993 sought, among other things, to increase the number of permits and add new types of permits. This document contains the ballot statement, the arguments pro-and-con, and the complete legal text.
  • Proposition I of November 1995 was a bid by United Taxicab Workers to place a limit on cab rental fees (gate control) and to establish a centralized dispatch system. This document contains the ballot statement and the arguments pro-and-con. See also the complete legal text of the measure.

Campaign flyer warns that cabs will go belly up if the measure becomes law

Courtesy of Dennis Kiernan. See a larger version of this campaign ad.

  • Proposition J of November 1996 would have allowed the sale of permits, established gate control and limited permits to drivers with at least five years experience. It would also have allowed for a type of part-time permit. This document includes the ballot statement, the arguments pro-and-con, and the complete legal text. (1.25MB)
  • Proposition D of November 1998 established the Taxi Commission. It was the only taxi-related ballot measure to pass after Prop K in 1978. This document includes the ballot statement, the arguments pro-and-con, and the complete legal text.
  • Proposition M of November 2000 would have authorized the issuance of various kinds of special purpose taxi permits, and allow them to be issued to more than a single individual. Prop M would also have set 800 hours as an annual driving or operating requirement. This document includes the ballot statement, the arguments pro-and-con, and the complete legal text. (1.2MB)

Campaign flyer asks if elderly permit holders should be required to drive

Courtesy of Dennis Kiernan. See a
larger version of this campaign ad.

  • Proposition N of November 2003 was a bid by PDA (now known as the Medallion Holders Association) to prevent revocation of permits due to disability. This document includes the ballot statement, the arguments pro-and-con, and the complete legal text. (3.9MB)

Political campaign poster calls for clean air and better transit
  • Proposition A of 2007 passed by a vote of 80,786 to 64,346 (55.6% to 44.4%.) See the official ballot statement with arguments pro-and-con, and the full text of the measure.

    The measure relates to the Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees the Municipal Railway and the Department of Parking and Traffic. It contains the following section, which provides a framework for revamping taxi regulation in San Francisco.

    "The Board of Supervisors shall have the power, by ordinance, to abolish the Taxi Commission created in Section 4.133, and to transfer the powers and duties of that commission to the Agency under the direction of the Director of Transportation or his or her designee the Board of Directors. In order to fully integrate taxi-related functions into the Agency should such a transfer occur, the Agency shall have the same exclusive authority over taxi-related functions and taxi-related fares, fees, charges, budgets, and personnel that it has over the Municipal Railway and parking and traffic fares, fees, charges, budgets, and personnel. Once adopted, Agency regulations shall thereafter supercede all previously-adopted ordinances governing motor vehicles for hire that conflict with or duplicate such regulations."

    The transfer to the MTA from the Taxi Commission happened in March 2009. Regulation moved into the hands of the Municipal Transportation Agency's Division of Taxis and Accessible Services. Numerous substantive changes have followed, notably a pilot program for the sale and transfer of taxicab medallions.

2006 documents

Photo by C. Rathbone

San Francisco City Hall
As in most places, SF taxis are regulated by city government.

  • The San Francisco Taxicab Industry: An Equity Analysis, June 2006 report prepared for SF Mayor Gavin Newsom and SF Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, from The Richard and Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. The Executive Summary to the 45-page report states in part: "We believe a system permitting the sale of medallions (transferability) would provide a more equitable and improved taxicab industry if implemented within specific structural parameters." (477kb PDF document).
  • Establishing a San Francisco Taxi Driver Health Care Coverage Program: Administration, Cost, and Funding Options. March 2006 report from the San Francisco Department of Public Health, 110 pages, 726KB pdf, complete with detailed actuarial analysis. An existing city-sponsored San Francisco Health Plan is proposed as the administrator. Drivers would pay $80 a month plus modest co-pays for services. The report examines funding options for the rest of the estimated $9-16 million annual cost.
  • Taxi Fact Book for 2006, New York City reference by Bruce Schaller
  • The State of the NYC Taxi, March 2006 overview by a TLC Commissioner. This nicely illustrated report gives the numbers and ages of the various model vehicles used as medallion cabs, their inspection pass-or-fail rates, and information on hybrid and accessible vehicles. NYC now has over 80 livery and medallion cabs that are hybrid vehicles. (1.24MB pdf document)
  • Taxi Availability Study For PCN Determination prepared for the San Francisco Taxicab Commission January 2006 by Q2 Research.
  • Do Economists Reach a Conclusion on Taxi Deregulation?, January 2006 article in Econ Journal Watch reviews "the judgements of economists who have written substantively on taxi regulation." (360kb PDF document).

Poster with a lurid image of Travis Bickle warns that pirate taxis are unlicensed, uninsured and very unsafe

This attention-getting poster, issued by the South Somerset District Council, is part of a public safety campaign in England to warn cab users about the dangers of riding in unlicensed cabs during the 2006 holiday season. The national campaign is dubbed Taxiwise. The Mayor of London is leading the Cabwise program which facilitates getting a legal taxi or minicab with the help of text messaging. The Taxiwise and Cabwise programs are endorsed by celebrities and are receiving a high level of press attention throughout the UK.

2005 documents

  • 8 Keys to Keeping Taxi Issues From Becoming a Political Hot Potato by Bruce Schaller, originally published in Taxi, Livery and Paratransit Association Taxicab newsletter, August 2005.
  • The Taxi Vehicle in the Ideal Taxi System by Bruce Schaller
  • Effectiveness of Controls Over the Taxi Industry, June 2005 report by the New Zealand Controller and Auditor-General. The 136-page report is critical of enforcement by regulators under an open entry policy that began about 15 years ago, and especially since 1997 when a similarly critical report was issued. A special concern is keeping unfit people out of the business. Deregulation in New Zealand led to approximately a tripling in the number of cabs and a ten-fold increase in the number of drivers. The report includes 61 recommendations for tightening control over the industry. (2.9MB pdf document)

Poster of women hailing for a cab at night - UK Taxiwise campaign

Birmingham UK public safety campaign

  • "To Insure Prejudice: Racial Disparities in Taxicab Tipping," article by Ian Ayres, Fredrick E. Vars and Nasser Zakariya in the Yale Law Journal, Vol. 114, 2005. Download the paper for free from Social Science Research Network. The authors analyzed data on more than 1000 tips to taxicab drivers in New Haven, Connecticut in 2001 and found significant differences based on the race of both driver and passenger.
  • "Local Exclusive Cruising Regulation and Efficiency in Taxicab Markets" by Daniel Flores-Guri in the Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, May 2005. "This paper shows that substituting metropolitan regulations for municipal ones can benefit consumers without hurting producers. The theoretical results are applied to the taxicab market in the adjacent cities of Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts." Available for sale, or read the abstract only
  • The World Bank, Washington, DC published Regulation of Taxi Markets in Developing Countries: Issues and Options, a February 2005 paper by Kenneth M. Gwilliam which examines the reasons why fares tend to rise when taxi markets are deregulated.
  • Toronto Taxi Alliance Inc. v. Toronto (City), February 2005 decision overturning bylaws that would have shifted ownership of taxi licenses away from corporations and toward owner-drivers. See the 1998 section below for the Report to Review the Toronto Taxi Industry that is referenced in this decision.
  • A Regression Model of the Number of Taxicabs in U.S. Cities by Bruce Schaller "identifies three primary demand factors: the number of workers commuting by subway, the number of households with no vehicles available, and the number of airport taxi trips." January 2005 report, 204kb PDF document.
  • Passenger and Driver Focus Group Reports on TLC Technology Enhancements by Bruce Schaller 2005

A gold-colored medal is suspended beneath a green and white ribbon

Sheriff's Citizen's Medal was awarded posthumously to Tuscon, Arizona taxicab driver Dawud Isa Abusida who lost his life when he stopped to assist an officer in trouble on August 10, 2005.

2004 documents

An elderly African-American woman with a cane and dark glasses does not want to remain in the driver seat of her taxi but has an agency-imposed full-time driving requirement

San Francisco voters received this campaign mailer regarding Proposition N of 2003, an unsuccessful initiative measure.

2003 documents

  • Unfare: Taxi Drivers and the Cost of Moving the City is a September 2003 report by the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center prepared for the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. The report uses self-reporting as the basis for its finding that drivers' average take-home pay is $22.14 per day.
  • Predicting health outcomes and safety behaviour in taxi drivers, 2003 paper by M. Anthony Machin and Jillian M. D. De Souza at the University of Southern Queensland in Australia. From the abstract: "This research projects integrates the various factors that influence the safety behaviour, physical health and emotional well-being of taxi drivers into a theoretical model that shows hazards, perceptions of risk-taking, aggression, and drivers' perceptions of management's commitment to health and safety as directly influencing physical health, emotional well-being, and safety behaviour of taxi drivers." (285kb PDF)
  • The regulation of licensed taxi and PHV services in the UK, link to the Taxi Studies page of the UK Office of Fair Trade with its November 2003 report and appendices
  • Recommendations for Measuring Taxi Availability for PCN Determination prepared for the San Francisco Taxicab Commission July 2003 by Schaller Consulting.

Photo of a minibus taxi

Minibus taxis are a key part of the South African transport system.

2002 documents

2001 documents

  • Taxicab Deregulation and Reregulation in Seattle: Lessons Learned, September 2001 report by Craig Leisy, Manager of the Consumer Affairs Unit for the City of Seattle. From the report: "The City of Seattle regulated rates and entry in the taxicab industry beginning in 1914. The taxicab industry was deregulated in 1979 because it was believed that competition would provide the public with improved service and lower rates. In fact, service quality declined and rates were often higher. Subsequently, the taxicab industry was reregulated starting in 1984. Initially, rate ceilings were established and later a moratorium was placed on issuance of new taxicab licenses. Seattle, like nearly all of the other cities that experimented with deregulation, eventually returned to regulation of entry and rates." Available from the International Association of Transportation Regulators.
  • Surdell-Kennedy Taxi Ltd. et al. v. City of Surrey, a September 2001 Canadian court decision regarding regulatory authority to conduct licence auctions, and right of personal property, very interesting.

Regina ad from the 1930s shows a row of antique taxis with their drivers at attention

During the 1930s fierce competition drove down prices and resulted in flat rate fares like this one -- 25 cents to anyplace in Regina, Saskatchewan

2000 documents

pre-2000 documents

Of 271,000 taxicab drivers and chauffeurs, 13.3% are women and 86.7% are men - 1999 data from US Department of Labor Women's Bureau

  • Section 32 of the UK Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and its companion discussion paper issued under the authority of the DDA95 relative to proposed regulations and specifications for accessible taxicabs in the whole of the UK by the year 2012. This is a key document regarding the change to a fully-accessible taxi fleet in London, now a reality.
  • San Francisco Superior Court 1995 decision in Joseph Tracy et al. vs. Yellow Cab Cooperative et al. requiring defendant cab companies to return security deposits to drivers, and permanently enjoining companies from challenging driver claims for Workers' Compensation and Unemployment Insurance benefits on the basis of independent contractor status. (3.15MB pdf)
  • "Analysis of Taxicab Deregulation and Re-Regulation" - This 1993 Price Waterhouse study concludes that, "The effects of taxi deregulation have ranged from benign to adverse. This is a departure from the experience with deregulation in other industries, and is influenced by taxi market imperfections which reduce or remove incentives for price and service quality competition. Consequently, most cities which had fully deregulated taxi service have since reverted to some form of control over market entry." The paper is available on the Colorado.gov website.
  • An Economic Analysis of Taxicab Regulation, 1984 Bureau of Economics Staff Report by Mark Frankena and Paul Pautler, US Federal Trade Commission; argues in favor of open-entry deregulation. (8.9MB PDF)
  • Taxicab Regulation in US Cities, Volume II: Case Studies, 1983 report by L. Carol Shaw, Gorman Gilbert, Christine Bishop and Evelyn Pruitt prepared for U.S. Urban Mass Transportation Administration; summary and link to the full report.
  • The Tragedy of the Commons by Garrett Hardin (1968) in Science magazine is one of the most-cited articles ever. It's insights remain relevant fifty years later as tens of thousands of "rideshare" vehicles swarm onto city streets around the world.

Photo of a colorful Tokyo taxi top light and flag

Flag atop a Tokyo taxi indicates to prospective customers that a discount rate of fare is in effect

Journal of Transport Economics and Policy

These documents from the Journal of Transport Economics and Policy are available to users at institutions. (They used to be available to all for free, and may still be if you can figure out their web page!) Many of the articles published in the journal are of special interest to readers with a strong background in math.

  • "The Economic Reasons for Price and Entry Regulation of Taxicabs" in Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, September 1975, Vol. 9, No. 3, Page 268, by C. Shreiber. "In a free market the charges for taxicabs tend to be high. Regulation in New York City has not been properly designed to achieve economic efficiency; but abolition of the present restriction on entry will increase congestion and pollution and attract more passengers from public transport."
  • "The Economic Reasons for Price and Entry Regulations of Taxicabs. A Comment" in Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, September 1977, Vol. 11, No. 3, Page 288, by R.B. Coffman. "A comment on the article in the September 1975 issue of this Journal, with the author's rejoinder."
  • "The Economic Reasons for Price and Entry Regulation of Taxicabs. A Comment" in Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, January 1980, Vol. 14, No. 1, Page 105, by D.J. Williams. "A comment on the article and later rejoinder by Professor Shreiber, published in this Journal in September 1975 and September 1977."
  • "The Economic Reasons for Price and Entry Regulation of Taxicabs: A Rejoinder" in Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, January 1981, Vol. 15, No. 1, Page 81, by C. Shreiber. "Professor Shreiber, author of the article and later rejoinder published in this Journal in September 1975 and September 1977, replies to the comment by David J. Williams which appeared in January 1980."
  • "The Impact of Taxicab Deregulation in the USA" in Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, January 1987, Vol. 21, No. 1, Page 37, by R.F. Teal M. Berglund. "Deregulation of taxicabs in several US cities has not produced the expected benefits. The authors analyse the reasons for this failure, and make suggestions for future policy."
  • "Price Regulation and Optimal Service Standards: The Taxicab Industry" in Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, May 1972, Vol. 6, No. 2, Page 116, by G.W. Douglas. "In a market of cruising taxis price competition is impracticable, and service (measured by waiting time) cannot be differentiated by customers' willingness to pay. This article examines the principles governing the setting of efficient prices to attain the maximum use of the service."
  • "Deregulating Taxi Services: A Word of Caution" in Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, May 1995, Vol. 29, No. 2, Page 195, by J. Hackner S. Nyberg. "This paper studies pricing and capacity decisions in markets for phone-ordered taxicabs. Firms first choose capacities and then compete in prices. As firm demand increases, so does waiting time. This dampens competition and makes prices too high from the social point of view. Efficiency improves if firms choose large capacities. In a two-firm setting, equilibrium capacities are shown to be larger if both firms maximise total profits than if they maximise profits per cab."
  • "Technical Efficiency and Ownership: The Case of Booking Centres in the Swedish Taxi Market" in Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, January 1996, Vol. 30, No. 1, Page 83. J. Mansson. "The study examines competition between privately and publicly owned booking centres in the Swedish taxi market by studying technical efficiency, and breaking down technical efficiency into managerial and organisational efficiency. The main results are that a large amount of technical efficiency exists and that no direct relationship between technical efficiency and type of ownership can be found."
  • "Economies of Scale in the Taxicab Industry. Some Empirical Evidence from the United States" in Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, September 1983, Vol. 17, No. 3, Page 299, by A.M. Pagano C.E. McKnight. "There are economies of scale for very small taxicab firms, but over 75,000 trips per year average costs increase, so the curve is U-shaped."
  • "Labour Costs and Taxi Supply in Melbourne" in Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, May 1981, Vol. 15, No. 2, Page 179, by D.J. Williams. "The non-progressive taxicab industry survives and may be able to expand because there has been a relative decline in the quality and the real wages of drivers and in the prices of new motor vehicles. Further research is suggested."
  • "Competition and Supply in London Taxis" in Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, January 1979, Vol. 13, No. 1, Page 102, by M.E. Beesley. "The numbers of London taxis and of licensed drivers have increased in recent years. Drivers are probably attracted by the variety of contracts available. But more information is needed on this and on the competitive hire car trade."

Photo of a PCO facility with cabs up on the lifts, by Terry Smythe

Taxi inspection facility of the Public Carriage Office, London.

Links to regulators, industry groups and similar sites

Map of secure and regular taxi stands

Classification of Regular and Secure Taxi Ranks in Sydney

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