SEATTLE -- The City of Seattle is planning a study to improve taxi response time. The average wait is 10 minutes but on peak nights, customers say they’re waiting up to an hour.
“There have been a couple times I’ve given up and walked home,” said Raul Villalobos, while waiting for a taxi.
With about 700 different cabs, the city believes it has enough.
“If you allow too many competitors to come in then the taxis that are there, the drivers can’t make a living wage,” said Craig Leisy, Consumer Affairs Unit Manager.
If the city added more drivers, Leisy said there would be fewer profits, pushing some towards making as little as minimum wage.
“For Hire” drivers often get flagged down from cab customers who get tired of waiting. About 100 are licensed to do it, but others do it illegally.
Tamara Vallejos was tired of waiting for cabs and switched to using a car service through a phone app.
“It tells you how many minutes until your car gets there, your driver, their license plate,” she said.
Villalobos may not be far behind. He was quoted 15 minutes for his cab to the train station and it never came.
“Any cab that comes along I’m going to jump in it because I need to run,” he said.
The city’s response study is expected to be completed by Spring 2013. An ordinance will also be introduced targeting illegal “for hire” cars. It requires that they be painted all white and have no advertisements or markings so they can’t masquerade as a licensed taxi.