SAN FERNANDO VALLEY : Taxi Firm Given Time to Add Cabs

A Los Angeles city transportation panel voted Tuesday to give a taxi firm that recently began serving the San Fernando Valley more time to live up to its contract with the city.

Instead of being required to add 22 cabs in the Valley every 45 days until it has 85 cabs on the road, the Board of Transportation Commissioners said the San Fernando Valley Checker Cab company will have 30 days to put at least 50 cabs on the road. That total will include five clean-air vehicles and two equipped with wheelchair lifts.

Checker Cab now operates 44 cabs, including one natural gas vehicle and one equipped with a lift.

The board issued the order after representatives of Checker Cab requested an exemption from a franchise agreement. Cab company representatives said they could not afford to operate 85 cabs because of the depressed economy and a delay in implementing a citywide transit scrip program that the elderly and disabled can use for discounted taxi rides.

The transportation board agreed to grant the exemption on condition that Checker Cab put a minimum of 50 cabs on the road by Jan. 21.

The board voted in October to forfeit Checker Cab's $20,000 performance bond after the firm failed to put 44 cabs on the road by Oct. 22. Officials said they missed the deadline by five days because of delays in getting the cabs from the manufacturer.

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