Sunday, August 8, 2010

Taxi! Taxi!

I don't know what the city's taxi industry did to tick off Mayor Greg Ballard, but whatever it was, it must have been bad.

It seems like each day, there's a new headline about the Ballard Administration's "War on Taxis" and his crusade to clean up the industry. He is dedicating manpower from the Department of Code Enforcement to make sure that those evil taxi drivers speak English, wear covered footwear, and carry the appropriate paperwork. Some bloggers like Gary Welsh over at Advance Indiana are suggesting things more sinister.

Of course, Indianapolis is such a taxi-heavy city! Wow! Everywhere you go, there are taxis, taxis, taxis. It's just like New York City and Chicago combined! I can totally understand why the Mayor would pick such a visible and well-used industry to attack.

If you detected sarcasm there, then you are a wise reader.

I have ridden in a taxi exactly twice in my life here in the City of Indianapolis. Both times it was after I took the Bloomington Shuttle Service from Bloomington to the Indianapolis International Airport. I needed a ride home, so I took a cab. Of course people do use taxis in the city, but, with due respect to John Boehner, Mayor Ballard is basically using a nuclear weapon to kill an ant. He's putting the full power of the Mayor's Office behind, what I see as, harassing taxi drivers.

I think that there are many many many more pressing issues the Mayor should be dealing with. It also seems to me that Code Enforcement might be more well-served in protecting our neighborhood zoning rules than running taxi license sweeps.

To me, the taxi crackdown shows that the city's priorities are its image, its image, and its image. Ballard says public safety is job one, but the recent headlines seem to make you think that maybe it's further down on the list.

It just seems odd. Very odd.


Andrew Troemner said...

Well, it does certainly seem like Mayor Ballard is over-reacting, but it's also important to remember that out-of-towners deal with taxis on a much more regular basis than hometown Hoosiers and that can have a major impact on our image as a city.

Once we get in-line rail from the airport, though, I can imagine this point as being moot.

Anonymous said...

While Indy taxis are a mess, it seems as if that problem ranks way down the line when you compare it to our decaying neighborhoods, murder rate and financial problems.

Indy Student said...

I'd like to know more about how often out of towners actually use taxis. I was talking to a couple of gentlemen here on business while waiting in line at CVS downtown. They said their hotel was nearby, and all of their business meetings or conferences or whatever were held in the same hotel.

Taxis are, however, lined up in Broad Ripple practically every weekend. The parking meters in BR after 9pm on weekends become reserved for LEO and taxis.

As I said in the comments on Gary's post, I'm torn. I'm a big believer in the free market, and if these companies are run as badly as the city says they are, eventually they'll be turned away. But taxis aren't exactly something most people do research on before getting into one. They just get in and hope for the best.

I think it's important to note that these taxi codes have been on the books for a while, they just haven't been enforced. If we want to debate this, then let's have the discussion of if these ordinances should be repealed or enforced, rather than criticizing the enforcement of them.