City to taxi drivers: Speak some English, please [The Sacramento Bee :: ]
(Sacramento Bee (CA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) March 18--Taxi drivers in Sacramento will have to clean up their act under new rules being proposed this week by the city: Cabbies would be required to collared shirts and slacks, drive newer vehicles, accept credit cards, and prove that they can speak at least some English.
The new rules do not apply to smart phone app services, such as Uber, or Lyft, the private cars with the pink mustaches, which are regulated by the state Public Utilities Commission.
But they do represent the biggest step Sacramento has taken toward modernizing what has long been a troublesome customer-service industry downtown.
City taxi regulators will bring a series of proposals this afternoon to the City Council's Law and Legislation Committee for vote. If approved, the new regulations will go to the full City Council at an undetermined date for consideration.
The regulations, more than a year in the making, stem from numerous complaints among taxi drivers, riders, downtown hotel managers and others about unprofessional and sometimes unethical behavior among cabbies and cab companies. City officials say some of the bad behavior, such as refusing service to customers who ask for a short-distance ride, stems from the fact that there are too many cabs operating downtown.
"We are continuing to enhance the industry," said city taxi official Dafna Gauthier. "We feel like we are becoming a more standardized taxi industry."
The new regulations would limit the number of taxis downtown to 450, down from the current estimate of 512 cabs. Taxis must be eight years old or less. That rule will be applied over a five-year period to give taxi companies time to adjust.
Responding to a common customer complaint, the city will require that all taxis accept credit cards and will no longer allow them to refuse service to people who do not have enough cash on hand.
The new rules will limit the price of a drive from downtown to the airport to $45.
Perhaps the most notable change in the law will be the requirement that cabbies take a test that shows they have at least a limited understanding of English, can make change correctly, and understand city regulations.
City officials have published a 17-question sample test, which they say is not necessarily the actual test that will be used. The first four questions test the person's grasp of English. They include: Smoking is prohibitedin cars. Which word closely relates to the underlined word? Allowed. Genius. Banned. Covert.
Also: Another word for taxi is: Car. Cab. Bus. Amusement.
Other questions relate to counting money: How much money is this? One dollar, 5 dollars, two nickels, two dimes, and 2 pennies.
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