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Taxis Take Step Toward Safe Service with Amended Ordinance

The Oxford board of alderman approved amendments to the city’s taxi ordinance to keep University of Mississippi students and the Oxford community safe when riding in taxicabs.
They new requirements include that each passenger will be charged a maximum of $10 per passenger for a one-way trip, and an additional $2.50 per person for every additional stop. All passengers will be offered a receipt, and the taxi will provide visual signage, which stating all rates for customers.
All drivers must keep their cars clean and post a State of Mississippi inspection sticker as well as displaying the driver’s city permit. Drivers are also not allowed to be on mobile devices unless it is a hands-free device.
“Every local company is complying with these requirements. Some of our local operators are working folks for whom this is their only source of income, and they may only own a single taxi,” Hughes said.
Smoking is not allowed by either the driver or any passengers in the car. In the first draft of the amendments, no passenger was allowed to ride in the front seat of the cab unless the car was full. Over the summer, multiple cab companies complained about the policy and asked for the language to be removed from the ordinance, especially for those with medical conditions who need the front seat space.
One reason for the lack of fear of passengers sitting next to drivers is the requirement of security cameras in all taxis.
“I have been in business for 10 years and already installed cameras in my taxicabs for the safety of my drivers and customers. I agree with the ordinance, and it has no affect on my business,” Angel Taxi owner Sue Lacrosse said. “We are still up and running every day. I am an Ole Miss mom and a part of the community, and I think that customers should stay local to a business they know and trust.”
UberThe car service Uber came to Oxford this fall and has been causing trouble among the local taxi services. Since its appearance in town Aug. 25, the company’s drivers have been cited multiple times by the Oxford Police Department for running unlicensed cabs. Though Deputy Chief James Owens said officers will not arrest drivers and continue to ticket them as they break the ordinance, Uber spokeswoman Kaitlin Durkosh said the company would reimburse its drivers for any fees incurred from tickets.
“Less than two weeks after the new ordinances went into effect, Uber drivers appeared without meeting any of the legal requirements, and putting its drivers at an unfair advantage over the law-abiding drivers and operators in our town,” Ward 1 alderman Jay Hughes said. “This also exposes passengers to the risk of an accident with no insurance coverage, and drivers without proper background checks.”
If any taxi fails to comply with the ordinance the consequences include suspension, revocation, or nonrenewal of their license.
“The laws Oxford adopted are about fairness and safety,” Hughes said. “Oxford will vigorously enforce its laws and charge any driver operating without the proper permit, taxi decal and insurance requirements.”
“I think that the taxi ordinance will create a safer community for our customers. It will also be easier for the police to identify illegal taxicabs, because we have to have a medallion placed on the side of our cars,” an unnamed driver from Oxford Taxi Co. said. “The new car service Uber will have more trouble because they have to go through background checks with the police.”
Molly Brosier is a HottyToddy.com staff reporter and can be reached at mebrosie@hottytoddy.com.

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