City Council ends up making right decision on taxis

The Marshall City Council on Tuesday decided against repealing the ordinance regulating taxi businesses. The decision was reached after push back from the very businesses being regulated.

The ordinance requires taxi cab operators be licensed, that they have public liability and injury insurance as well as property damage insurance and that their cabs are certified to be in good condition.

Earlier this month, the Council discussed a proposal by City Administrator Nicholas Johnson to repeal the ordinance. City Attorney Dennis Simpson and Johnson told the Council that the ordinance was difficult to enforce when receiving complaints of unlicensed taxi services. They also said ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, where drivers use their own vehicles to pick up passengers, also complicate the issue of licensing cabs.

But when the City Council held a public hearing on the issue Tuesday, licensed cab companies shared their opposition to the repeal.

Taxi cab operators Bob Quasius and Sami Saad El-Dein spoke against the repeal and offered three arguments against the repeal.

No. 1, Quasius said concerns about Uber and Lyft didn’t seem like a good reason to repeal the taxi ordinance. He said neither company has drivers in Marshall right now. And he said the ride-sharing companies do have insurance requirements for the drivers.

No. 2, El-Dein said having a taxi licensing requirement can help screen out unsafe operators and protect vulnerable passengers. He also said insurance requirements are also necessary requirements. No. 3, Quasius said some Minnesota cities require taxis traveling in from other communities to be licensed. He said without a Marshall taxi license, he wouldn’t be allowed to drop off passengers in those cities.

El-Dein told the Independent on Monday he felt the city was taking a shortcut around enforcement by proposing the repeal. But maybe city officials really didn’t understand all of the ramifications of an ordinance repeal.

The repeal wasn’t a good idea. However, the City Council did the right thing by holding a public hearing on the issue before making a final decision. The City Council listened to those who had the most at stake: the lawful operating businesses. Then ended up making the right decision.

However, the city and law enforcement should give more study into enforcement of the ordinance. If there are taxi services operating unsafely without a license in the city — well that’s a tragedy waiting to happen.