Residents welcome plan to increase cabs on Jersey City streets; taxi owners less enthusiastic
Sep 30, 2013 | 2159 views | 0 0 comments | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Taxi cab owner Eric Kwless said owners were under the impression the city would consult with them before increasing the number of cabs serving Jersey City residents.
Taxi cab owner Eric Kwless said owners were under the impression the city would consult with them before increasing the number of cabs serving Jersey City residents.
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JERSEY CITY – A plan by Jersey City to increase the number of cabs with city-approved taxi licenses is being applauded by commuters who rely on cabs, but has rankled taxi cab owners and drivers.

For the past several years, residents have complained that Jersey City does not have enough taxis at its four designated cab stand or patrolling the streets to meet it growing population, a problem that can lead to long wait times for cabs, especially on weekends, late nights, or during inclement weather. The wait time for a cab at the Journal Square taxi stand, the city’s busiest taxi stand, can sometimes be as long as 30 minutes.

After months of complaints from commuters, the city – under the administration of former mayor Jerramiah T. Healy -- last year tried to increase the number of cabs at the Journal Square stand during designated peak hours. This experiment ended and was not extended, however, after cab owners complained that this change was made without their input.

The city is now poised to address the problem again, this time under the administration of Mayor Steven Fulop.

If the plan is approved by the City Council, the administration plans to hold public auctions for city-issued cab licenses. Assuming that all of the licenses are sold, residents will have access to 20 additional cabs in the city.

“Great. Can’t happen soon enough,” said Greg Toback, a Jersey City resident who takes cabs from the Journal Square PATH Station to his home in the Heights. He said he regularly waits 15 top 20 minutes for a cab, although has waited longer when it’s raining or snowing.

But Eric Kwless, the owner of Alex Taxi, said the plan violates an agreement cab owners have with the city.

“We were told last year by the Division of Commerce that they would tell us if they were making any changes. No one told us about this plan. We are just hearing about it,” Kwless said.

Under the administration’s plan, the Journal Square taxi stand would get three additional cabs. The downtown taxi stand at Grove Street would get two additional cabs. The Exchange Place stand would get two additional taxis. And the stand at Newport would get four additional cabs. Nine licenses would be sold for cabs that are not tied to a designated taxi stand.

The taxi licenses would be sold for prices ranging from $50,000 to $100,000, depending on which stand a taxi services, and the Fulop administration expects the sale of the licenses to be a big revenue generator for the city. – E. Assata Wright

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