Taxi services may be able to pick up passengers in Midlothian soon and charge more than 75 cents for the first passenger.

City council members directed staff to began reconsideration the city's ordinance regulating taxi services operating in Midlothian. The current taxi ordinance was passed in 1978, said city manager Chris Dick. The city has been contacted by an Ellis County based taxi service interested in extending operations into Midlothian, he said.

Some of the most problematic language in the current ordinance is the set rates, Dick pointed out.

"Each taxicab passenger except as otherwise provided in this chapter shall be charged and shall pay for each trip from trip origin to trip destination (continuation beyond destination being a separate trip) the following fares: 75 cents for one passenger plus; 20 cents for each additional passenger plus; 10 cents for each stop under 5 minutes at passengers request; 20 cents for each stop 5 minutes and over at passengers request; 20 cents for passengers packages handled by taxi driver," according to the ordinance.

The going rate for a taxi in Dallas today is $2.25 for the first passenger and $1.80 per mile, Dick said to chuckles from the council members.

Silver Bullet Taxi, owned and operated out of Waxahachie for five years by Charles Pinkstaff, has expressed interest in expanding their services to cover Midlothian, Dick said. Currently, any cab can drop off passengers in Midlothian, but to be able to pick up a fare in the city, the cab must be licensed by the city. No cab services are currently licensed, he said.

"We get a lot of calls from here," Pinkstaff told council members. "Uber and Lift don't usually get south of I-20."

If the ordinance is updated and his business becomes licensed with the city, he would positions one cab in the city of Midlothian with plans to expand to at least two cabs, Pinkstaff said. His drivers regularly transport Waxahachie senior residents to doctors appointments or to go shopping or take people to and from work while their vehicles are in the shop, he said. The cabs provide safe rides home from bars and he also has a partnership with the social services office of Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Waxahachie to drive family members to the hospital to be with a patient.

"My drivers have never been in an accident in five years of business," he said.

After Pinkstaff requested the city update their ordinance so his company could begin operating here, city attorney Joe Gorfida compared the city's current ordinance with other cities'. There are many similarities between the current Midlothian ordinance including requiring cabs be inspected by a city official, carry signs identifying them as cabs or taxis, be licensed by the city and carry minimum insurance to cover passenger injury, Gorfida told the board. It is still within the city's right to regulate taxi services, he said. The main difference is the prices have changed but the ordinance could be changed to allow rates to fluctuate within the going market rate, he said. He also suggested the police department inspect the cabs each year rather than the public works superintendent.

The city could also consider placing regulations on vehicles for hire service companies like Uber and Lift so that when they do begin to operate in the city, they would be regulated as well, Gordida said. The current ordinance would not extend to such services.

Some cities like Austin required vehicles for service drivers to be individually licensed and background checked by the city, effectively driving Uber and Lift out of the city, he said. Fort Worth currently does not require vehicle for hire service drivers be background checked by the city but does require companies to carry insurance on their drivers. Insurance companies require background checks on drivers, he said.

Council member Joe Frizzell supported including sections on vehicles for hire services in the updated ordinance.

"They may not be coming here now, but they may be on the border of the city next year," he said. "I'd kind of like, if I'm getting in the car with someone, to know what kind of person they are, if they have convictions for driving while intoxicated."

The council members instructed city staff to evaluate the ordinances in surrounding cities including Waxahachie, Dallas and Fort Worth to suggest updates to the ordinance.

 

Contact Bethany Kurtz at 469-517-1450 or email bkurtz@waxahachietx.com. Follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BethanyKurtzMidloMirror or on Twitter @bethmidlomirror.