I don’t know if it’s gas prices, the overall impact of the Great Recession, or better yet — the growing popularity of downtown Kent — or maybe it’s all of the above. Regardless of the why, we’ve seen a steady increase in taxi services in Kent and with more people climbing into stranger’s cars than ever before, it was time for the City to take a closer look at what it means to be able to run a taxi service in Kent.
The City was actually approached by a taxi cab company who wanted to see the City set minimum standards, similar to what exists in our neighborhing communities, to ensure that all of the companies were competing on a level playing field — meaning make sure everyone had adequate insurance, safe driving records, etc.
It turned out that some of the companies provide first rate, professional taxi service, but there were other fly by night types of cab companies that charged a lower price because they cut corners. The City is in the business of looking out for public safety so there was a willingness by City Council to look at some new regulations that would give taxi riders the confidence that someone had checked the drivers and the company out before they climbed into the vehicle and essentially put their life in the hands of a perfect stranger.
There are currently eight different taxicab companies/ services identified as operating in Kent. In August Kent City Council passed an ordinance (Chapter 749 Taxicab Regulations) which regulates taxicabs operating in Kent. The new regulations take effect in thirty (30) days (end of September).
The ordinance regulates company operations, driver requirements, vehicle safety standards, markings, prohibited acts, and the licensing of cabs operating in the city. The ordinance, which has been modeled after taxi ordinances of other communities, applies to all taxis that pick up fares inside the city.
Here’s a link to the new taxi cab regulations.