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Thursday, Feb 2, 2023

Catching a Cab Could Become a Little Easier

When was the last time you hailed a cab in downtown L.A.?

“It’s not that easy,” admitted John Cantlay, chief concierge at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel. He makes sure guests leave with a cab company’s phone number when they go out.

Taxis always seem to be lined up at the hotels, though. Why not fan out and pick up fares from other spots?

It’s partly an economic Catch 22: Until more people hail them, it’s better for cabbies to wait at the hotel (possible airport fare) than troll for sparse local riders. And because cabs don’t stop, riders don’t bother to hail them.

“I’d say if you’re trying to hail a cab on the street, you have about a 50-50 chance of getting one,” said Robert Levels, director of business development for Independent Cab Co.

Municipal code issues and “red zones” bar cabs from stopping, loading and unloading in many spots for traffic safety.

The Central City Association and the Board of Taxicab Commissioners are looking for solutions.

One plan is to publicize the 37 downtown taxi stands that are not at hotels and rarely attract the crowds that the nine hotel stands do. The commission also has asked the city to install more taxi stands and move existing ones to more convenient zones a problem that extends beyond downtown. “At the Kodak Center, for example, the taxi stands are on the wrong side of the street and four blocks away,” said B. Christian Coe, vice president of the Board of Taxicab Commissioners.

Visibility is also a problem. The curbs are painted white and have “taxi zone” stenciled in. Signage is discreet.

Thomas Drischler, taxicab administrator for the city Department of Transportation, has met with Central City Association officials over their proposal to create a “more Manhattan-style taxi culture downtown.”

That could include having traffic officers show a little more leeway when a cab is loading or unloading passengers. “It’s all very preliminary, but it’s an interesting idea,” Drischler said. “We’re flushing out the details of how something like this might work.”


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