The Wichita City Council tightened its grip on the city’s taxi operations Tuesday, approving its first set of code revisions for the industry since 1984.
The changes establish a new regulatory structure, putting the city in a licensing, enforcement and liaison role, according to a report to the council by Brandon McGuire, a public management intern in the city manager’s office.
The new code’s goal is customer service, including faster and more reliable response times. Drivers will go through customer service classes through the city’s convention and tourism bureau, Go Wichita. The code also establishes twice-yearly cab inspections and raises fees by two or three times for licensing and inspections.
In March, Mayor Carl Brewer blasted the local cab industry, saying he’s tired of customer complaints about driver behavior and customer service as “people who should be Wichita ambassadors.” Complaints range from dirty, improperly clothed and rude drivers to smoke-filled cabs, driver no-shows and late arrivals.
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The city processes three taxicab company licenses a year, along with 85 cab vehicle permits and 167 new and renewal driver applications.