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Taxi Service

November 05, 1987

It is all well and good for The Times to pontificate about the need to improve the city's taxi service, as per an editorial ("Toward Decent Cab Service," Oct. 20), recommending improvement simply by putting more cabs on the street in the form of a new service. It is an oversimplification.

Lack of sufficient city-authorized taxis is only part of the problem. There are approximately 600 non-authorized, bandit operators in competition with the city's authorized cabs. Such bandits are often uninsured, untrained, uncaring and drive vehicles that have not been inspected.

Poor service in certain areas of the city is the result of a lack of commitment by city-authorized operators to provide adequate cabs in those areas. The underlying reason for such action is insufficient demand to justify the necessary commitment. Non-authorized, bandit cabs provide extensive service in these areas thus seizing much of the demand that would otherwise justify the greater commitment by legitimate operators.

There are an estimated 600 bandit operators who ply their trade in Los Angeles without benefit of regulations designed to protect the public's welfare. These operators are not screened for criminal or driving records and their vehicles are not checked for safety by the city. The public is at risk when riding in such vehicles. Every bandit fare in the city represents a loss in revenue for the legitimate operators.

The city is making progress in its effort to eliminate the bandit cabs but cannot do it alone. The public needs to be informed that only taxis with the city authority can pick up in Los Angeles. These vehicles have circular blue and white decals, approximately 12 inches in diameter and the words "City of Los Angeles-Department of Transportation" encircling a picture of the City Hall. There are currently seven operators authorized in Los Angeles.

They are Valley Cab; Independent Cab; United Independent Cab; Beverly Hills; Los Angeles Checker; L.A. Taxi and United Checker.

The most effective action against bandit cabs is for the public to cease calling them.

Adding another 80 cabs to the city's fleets will not have the overall constructive impact until the bandits are removed or the public refuses to use them, in which event they will refrain from operating.

NATHAN L. CHROMAN

President

Los Angeles City Board

of Transportation Commissioners

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