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L.A. may ease taxi rules

Times Staff Writer

The city of Los Angeles has some of the most stringent taxicab regulations in the country.

Cabbies can’t pick up passengers in bus zones, alongside red curbs or on busy streets when no-parking rules are in effect. During rush hour, the city’s busiest streets become “No Stopping” zones, in which drivers can be ticketed for loading.

On Thursday, the Board of Taxicab Commissioners, after discussing ways to make catching a cab easier, asked the city’s Department of Transportation to prepare a detailed report on how best to move forward.

The session was the result of concerns raised by taxicab managers, drivers, city officials and others interested in how an improved cab system could benefit a city that has seen an increase in foot traffic, particularly in Hollywood and downtown L.A.

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Board commissioner Teri Bialosky asked the gathering: “How do other major metropolitan areas manage to do this with no problems? That’s my question.”

The move to a taxi culture in Los Angeles would require a “paradigm shift,” said Bill Rouse, general manager of the Administrative Services Co-Op, which manages L.A. Yellow Cab and other carriers in the county. “I think if the city sees taxis in terms of the bigger transit picture, it’ll see that this makes sense,” Rouse said.

Several people testified on what they perceive as unfair ticketing of cab drivers by police and transit officials.

Nettabai Ahmed, president of Independent Taxi Co., said there is “no common sense” when it comes to enforcing city cab policy.

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He and others referred to incidents in which drivers have been ticketed for helping unload a disabled passenger in a red zone or bus lane.

“If there’s no written policy . . . no matter what we do, the problem will still be existing,” Ahmed told the board.

Amir Sedadi, assistant general manager of the city’s transportation agency, said enforcement is “not black and white. There is compassion.”

Sedadi said his agency wants to facilitate taxicab use and said a pilot program might be in order.

Tom Drischler, the city’s taxicab administrator, presented the board with cab policy in other cities.

In San Francisco, for instance, taxis are allowed to load and unload in bus zones if no hazard is created; and in Denver, a 2007 law gives cabs 90 seconds to load and unload passengers, he said.

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daniela.perdomo @latimes.com

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