COMMERCIAL PASSENGER VEHICLE /FOR HIRE TASK FORCE
March 8, 1999
The meeting of the Commercial Passenger Vehicle/For Hire Task Force, held in the Assembly Chambers of the Municipal Building, was called to order at 5:15 p.m. by Chair Garrett.
Members Present: Garrett, MacKinnon, Hagevig, and Koelsch
A quorum was present.
Staff Present: Marian Miller, Municipal Clerk; Dave Palmer, City Manager; Donna Pierce, Deputy City Manager John Corso, City Attorney; Barbara Craver, Assistant Attorney; Darci Wert, Administrative Specialist; Mel Personett, Police Captain; Bob Fletcher, Police Lieutenant
Mr. Garrett announced that Ordinance 99-04 was introduced at the Assembly meeting on March 1 and was scheduled for action at the meeting on March 15. Draft regulations to implement the ordinance would be part of this work session but there would be plenty opportunity in the future to amend the regulations. This task force would meet again on Friday the 12th at Noon and look at making amendments to the draft ordinance 99-04. He explained the procedure and said testimony would be limited to five minutes.
Mr. Corso reviewed his memorandum dated March 1, 1999 and presented an overview of the ordinance and the regulation.
Larry Johansen, 2916 Simpson Avenue, representing Alaska Sightseeing/Cruise West. He noted that the designation of the type of commerce had been ignored. Several operators are providing inter-state transportation and there is a very important distinction between that activity and the other types of activity that are looking to be regulated. It is determined by the DOT that their commodity is interstate and that is how they are regulated. Their tour product is sold in Seattle, folks come to town on a ship, go through Juneau and go on to other destinations. It is because of that, he thinks, that carriers who are regulated by DOT should be omitted from the local ordinance. He thought it was key to the point of why the regulations were being implemented in the first place. It is a regulated business activity and there are other ordinances that regulate how they park, how fast they go and other ways that the city can regulate the activity of their buses. The business that is being transpired by his company is distinctly different than the other operators who are looking to be regulated. He said his company spends at least $1M in advertising to bring people to Juneau. They are the largest overnighters in Juneau with over 5,000 room nights. They contribute roughly $2M of spending in Juneau and are attracted by his companys advertising. He thought there should be some liberty to their commodity and their ability to operate with these folks. Once they get them here, they should be able to take them on a tour, or a transfer without having to go through the regulations and apply for five different uses. He thought this a poor incentive for additional business to come to Juneau and he urged that in the ordinance, companies that are regulated by the DOT be exempted completely from the ordinance.
Ms. Hagevig asked him how this compared to other communities in Southeast Alaska. Mr. Johansen said no where else are they regulated in any degree of what is being considered in the ordinance here. They have an exemption and meet the requirements of safety and insurance and the other classifications that are asked for in the ordinance.
Ken Christensen, 6590 #266 Glacier Highway, representing Alaska Taxi and Tours. His opinion of the state-regulated buses was that none of them provide interstate travel. They all provide tours in the CBJ and are a main source of congestion, and pollution. He asked why the taxi industry had to pay $200 for a seven-passenger vehicle to operate in the CBJ and someone who carries 60-70 people has to pay $50. The bus companies are generating millions of dollars and his company is generating maybe $50,000 per year. He thought the buses should have to pay the same amount. He said it did not seem that the CBJ recognized how taxi companies are run in the CBJ. Years ago companies owned and operated their vehicles and the vehicles were leased out to individual drivers. Now, they are contractors. They offer anyone who wants to drive a cab and a place to do business under one name. They are not employers and he thought there should be a definition in the ordinance that separates the two. For him to be penalized as a company, for a private contractor who has a dirty back seat, that appears to be two points that would go on his holder certificate. If he had 30 drivers, one bad driver could rack up 8 points in a given amount of time. That would leave 29 drivers without a place to drive, who would have to paint their vehicles to drive for another company because his license was suspended because of that one person. He felt as an owner, he should be responsible for checking for insurance, permits, that their vehicle has been inspected and that they are on his certificate. He should not be responsible for their individual actions which could in effect put numerous people out of work, cost thousands of dollars and cause the public to lose that business. The regulations say that the business would have to operate 24 hours a day. That could cost $121,000 and considering the fact that his business brought in less than $50,000 last year, that would be hard to do. Requiring 6 vehicles, with 3 on 24 hours a day, under their scheduled fees that they charge their drivers, would fall below half of the amount required to operate that business which would be an undue burden that could put a good business out of business for no apparent reason. Smaller operations performing a good service for their customer bases and the size of the business should not be regulated.
Ms. Hagevig clarified that he felt the requirements in the regulation and the ordinance, with respect to the number of cabs that have to stay in operation at any given time, do not match the bottom line by year end. He said there would be no way to meet the requirements and stay in business. He added that the fee schedule for the drivers was astronomical and that they should be cut in half. Late fees should not apply to the taxi industry because that is not the nature of the business.
Jim Demers, 245 Marine Way, representing the Juneau Trolley Car Company, testified about two inadvertent oversights in the ordinance. One of them has already been fixed. The hearing officer being the police chief was final in the original ordinance, but in tonights copy, there is a procedure to appeal that decision to the city manager. The second item was in the endorsement section, page 14 & 15. The Juneau Trolley Car Company would be out of business the way this is written. They do not fall under 1, 2, 3 or a, b, c of the endorsements. In the past five years of operation, they have chosen the shuttle endorsement because that was just as vague as the tour and limousine endorsement. Now, they could not choose the shuttle or tour endorsement unless a couple of words are changed. Page 15, if under conditions, the word one is removed after specifying, so it would read "the endorsements shall be subject to conditions specifying embarkation and debarkation points in one standard fare", then they would be back in business. Sub-paragraph A would have to correct place to places. The Trolley Company could then operate legally under a tour endorsement. If that were not acceptable, he suggested a sixth endorsement, a Trolley Car endorsement which would address specifically what they do.
Kirby Day, representing Princess Tours, 76 Egan Drive, #300. Mr. Day questioned whether or not comprehensive regulations, and trying to throw the blanket over every specific spec in the spectrum, would end up causing more problems than the ones that are trying to be solved. He asked if the goal of the ordinance and regulations was to regulate state regulated buses or was it to regulate cabs and vans and protects the taxi industry. There used to be, in the ordinance, the purpose of avoiding duplicate regulation. That has disappeared out of the purpose. Currently motor coaches and drivers, while operating services for the CBJ or Federal Government or State, are exempt from the code. Those same drivers and same buses, if they are doing a tour, are not exempt from the code. He said a Princess bus could do a school transfer in the morning and then pick up a group of tourist and take them to the Glacier. They would be exempt in the morning but not exempt in the afternoon and he did not think that made sense. On page 6, line 22 of the ordinance, thought should be given to adding gratuity to the definition of courtesy vehicles. If gratuity were regulated out, he would lose drivers and he did not think the fact that driver performs good customer services and get a gratuity should change the classification of that vehicle if the intent is to be a courtesy vehicle. In the ordinance, page 9, lines 22-24, it infers that the commercial drivers license (CDL) supercedes the chauffeurs license. However, in the regulation on page 14, line 12, it now uses a qualifying statement imposing the same requirement saying that the CDL is valid over the chauffeurs license as long as it imposes the same requirement. The CDL, other than for a taxi driver, supercedes the chauffeurs license. That statement in the regulation contradicts what is said in the ordinance. Page 13, line 7-8 of the ordinance requiring a driver list identifying the drivers working for a company is duplicate regulation. It must be done for DOT. Page 13, lines 18-22, he does not agree with the purpose of regulating specific types of service. State regulated coach companies should be exempt from having to file separate endorsements for every single type of service that they try to accomplish. Page 14, lines 10-22, under the shuttle endorsement it leaves out the ferry and he knows that one of the companies operates a ferry shuttle. He asked what would happen when his company is chartered by an entity in town to operate a shuttle. The market would dictate who gets the business based on convenience, safety and good business practice. He reminded the task force that they started the Crew Shuttle with the Assemblys endorsement and consent; now he would have to go out and buy a $1,000 permit to operate. He said the charter endorsement does not make sense for them because not every charter that they operate is on an hourly basis, some are on a seat basis or a trip basis depending on the customer. The tour endorsement does not make sense because it talks about one embarkation point and one disembarkation point. If that is the case, he would not be able to honor his commitment to the Downtown Business Association which is to pick people up for a tour and drop them at Marine Park so that they can shop or drop them at the Museum. He could not pick up at one ship and go pick up the rest of the people at the other ship and that does not make sense. He suggested that state regulated buses be exempt from the code entirely except for being obligated to pay reasonable fees. For the last 20 years they have been exempt from duplicate regulation and the code, yet they have paid all fees to the city as a company doing business. To his knowledge that has not caused any undue hardship on the city or the taxi industry. The city has not had to do inspections on their buses because the state supercedes that. They do not operate anything like a taxi and he did not feel the intention was to regulate state regulated bus companies. They have 10 operations throughout the State of Alaska operating much the same as they do here and in a variety of different ways. Nowhere do they face any type of regulation that tries to tell them who they can and cannot transport, or the fact that they need four different endorsements in order to do three different things on the same day. He had verbiage from the Ketchikan code which read "Owners and operators of vehicles regulated by the Federal Highways Administration or Interstate Commerce Commission, (which is now done by the State of Alaska) shall be exempted by the clerk from complying with the certification requirements of this chapter so long as the owner and operator of the vehicle demonstrates that federal regulations applicable to the vehicle in interstate commerce are equivalent to regulations in this chapter regarding vehicle safety and insurance. Additionally, no such vehicle may be operated as a taxi cab." Beyond that, they are happy to pay their fee.
Jeff White, 76 Egan Drive, representing Alaska Native Tours. He testified that he would go out of business if these regulations and this ordinance were carried through. One problem for him was the embarkation and debarkation of the tour endorsement. Most of their tours begin at the Seadrome and then people are dropped off at the Tram or the hotels. They also do shuttles and most shuttles go from downtown to a private dock out at Auke Bay. They have nothing to do with cruise ship crews or the airport as it states in the regulations. On the fee structure, he had a hard time with hiring a CSO and then structuring the fees around it. Paying a person to regulate within a four-block area for $60,000 would be missing the point and micro managing. It is not encouraging business but is over regulating it and may drive a lot of people out of business if they operate legally.
Betty Winters, 4044 Delta Drive, B Independent Taxi, addressing the regulation. She said she and her husband were one cab company and they have been in business for seven years. Now the city wants to make a regulation that you have to have six cabs to be a cab company. They are a mom and pop operation and have a very small clientele, and they rarely do tours (her records show that they only did two tours last year). No cab company, no matter what their size, can get to all their customers immediately. Sometimes companies have to call other companies. If they cannot be in business, the ordinance does not mean too much to them at this point.
Ms. Hagevig asked her to elaborate on how long it takes to build up a business. Ms. Winters said that Taku was in business when they moved here. The other companies that exist now did not start with six cabs. It takes a long time to build up a taxi business and to come in cold turkey and start with six cabs, she did not believe could work. The owner could be financially solvent but he would not pay his drivers rent or feed his kids while the business was being built.
Frank Rich, 9143 Parkwood. On the ordinance, page 3, he felt the certificate holder would be responsible for just about anything a body does. That would be great if the holder had some sort of control over it. A holder will have a real hard time when a driver is out driving a vehicle and the vehicle gets dirty. He thought a holder should be regulated as far as a vehicle without a current vehicle approval, a holder where the vehicle does not register, a holder to provide service with an unregistered vehicle or driver and the holder to provide service with an uninsured vehicle. He thought the holder of a certificate should be responsible for those things but the other things that are listed under the holders name should either be the owner of the vehicle or the driver of the vehicle. The driver should be responsible for driving a mechanically safe vehicle. The fee structure is really steep. A person can get a CDL that is good for five years, for $100. To charge someone $500 for a taxi endorsement on a chauffeurs license is a little expensive especially when the criminal background check and physical is already paid for by the person applying for the chauffeurs permit. He suggested $100 to get a chauffeurs permit good for two years. Part of the fee structure was to get rid of the people who come for the tourism season and leave. He did not have a problem with that as far as the taxi cab industry was concerned but to charge every taxicab $200 for a vehicle inspection fee is a bit much. He suggested $50 for a cab and thought the way to make extra money would be in late fees such as a late application fee. People who are in the business 365 days a year are going to be in that time frame. He did not know why the late registration of a driver, if he is already paying for a lot of the things, should have to be charged. He would think those things could be done for free, just like registering a vehicle at no charge.
Ms. Hagevig clarified the late registration he was speaking of for a driver was the December deadline. She presumed that drivers were hired though out the year. Mr. Rich said as far as a bus company, yes, but for taxi cab drivers, if a period of time is given the people working in the industry year round would make it. The person who comes in April and wants to drive taxicab he is the one thats nailed big time for fees. Ms. Hagevig clarified for the bus company it would not work. Mr. Rich said the best solution in many situations is to let them just pay their fees; they are regulated by other agencies.
Kathleen Westbrook, 9950 Stephen Richards Memorial Drive, 29A. With regards to fees, she added up the physical, mechanical inspection, the business license, insurance, gas, tires, oil, brakes, and on and on, dispatch, and registration and driving records and criminal records and all of that, and it came to $21,370 per year. She said she was generous with herself when she gave herself $34,000 a year income. That was before she subtracted the $21,370 per year which gave her $12,630 a year to live on. Next she has to pay rent, lights, garbage, water, gas, and a lot of people have wives and children. The total of her expenses came to $1,554 per month/$18,648 yearly, just for herself. She asked how she should take $18,648 out of $12,630. This structure would add another $500 for her chauffeurs license and $200 for her registration and she did not know how she would do it.
Brad Gioletti, 102 North Franklin Street, representing Taku Taxi. He said Ms. Westbrook represented the typical cab driver and she has been working for over seven years with Taku Taxi. She neglected to mention that the income has gone down over the past five years. With regard to the ordinance, his main concern was that the chief of police would be the administrator. The administrator would hire an employee to administer the fines and schedules and be the enforcement. Whenever he has hired employees in the past, he has always backed up his employees and he would not be surprised if law enforcement was the same way. The City Manager would be one individual making a decision. The industry felt that any fines should go before a panel of at least three people made up of an Assemblymember and a person from the industry. Leaving power in the hands of just one person gives them too much power. There panel could takes care of the disciplinary problems. The courtesy vehicles are slipped in with the city buses and he thought it should be narrowed down to hotel courtesy vehicles. He said that if the city was looking for money from the cab, shuttle and bus industry, there are seven hotels that have courtesy vehicles. If they were charged $1,000 to "do business in the City of Juneau" that seemed to him to be extortion. The Travel Lodge does a lot of business but they are run by a schedule so they are basically running a shuttle. He suggested having a shuttle endorsement and letting them continue to run. They run a lot of people in the city on our public streets. They get a permit to pick up people at the airport. If it were $2,000 each, that would be $14,000 out of the hotels and there would people that could actually be regulated. The Police Department already has a regulatory action because on every inspection they make sure there is insurance and registration and that the tags are good and that the chauffeurs permit is up to date. A lot of times different agencies have a hard time communicating. The courtesy vans, if they are not running on a schedule, are running as a taxicab in certain cases. To fine $100 for a dirty back seat and then charge $250 to appeal it again sounded like extortion. He should just pay the $100 because there is not a panel to deal with it. Implementing the fee schedule should be done over a period of years. He quoted Mr. Corso who said he thought the system would require a minor tune up in August and a major tune up in January. Mr. Giolette thought this committee was going to try to get an overall view of some comprehensive working regulations and ordinances so there would not be a need to come back ever year. He thought a lot of good work and effort had been done but that more work needed to be done. He had never been asked about how Taku Taxi works and he asked if they knew he had a contract, per state law, to contract the private contractors, which are the taxi cab drivers. They are not employees of the cab company. Years ago when the cab company owned all the cabs, they got a percentage. The state changed it and now the drivers are private businessmen. As one of the owners of Taku Taxi, he has to collect city sales tax from another private businessman and pay their city sales tax on a monthly basis in order to be able to do business in this city. There are some businesses in town who have not paid their sales tax in three years and they are still doing business. In summary, he had a problem with the chief of police and the Manager being "the man" and said it should be a board with someone from the industry. Hearings could be held once a month and to appeal the process should not be done to one man. Courtesy vehicles should be included and should be really looked at and monitored by insurance and by the city. In one of the regulations it talks about intercepting a call and he thought the easiest way to eliminate that would be to have an ordinance that they cannot have scanners or hold another companys frequency in their radio. The enforcement officer could check that out and there could be big fines imposed. He made himself available for future discussions.
Shane Williams, P.O. Box 211245, Auke Bay, representing the Juneau Independent Drivers Association. Under the fine schedule of the ordinance, he thought for a holder with a commercial motor vehicle in violation of laws, $100 would be ample. Anyone in violation would be hit with another fine automatically and nine times out of ten the insurance would tag you. Driver in violation of commercial vehicle laws, $100 would be ample. Driver without Chauffeurs license, $300 would be good. Driver not displaying chauffeurs license he suggested $50 and said $300 was excessive. He agreed with $300 for Holders vehicle without current vehicle approval and for not being registered. If the vehicle is not registered they would be hit with a traffic violation and have another fine as well. Holder of the vehicle not mechanically safe, he asked at what standard that would be placed. He thought it should be staged and based on the severity. Holders vehicle not cleaned, he echoed everyone else and thought the fine should be initially started at a lower fee, between $50 and $100. Vehicle not carrying documentation, if they are inspected and already have the documentation, but have cleaned the vehicle out, he suggested starting it at $50 and staging it. With regard to holders vehicle taximeter not accurate, he said if you lease the car and do not own it, you may not knowingly know if that meter is accurate or not. Starting the fee out differently would be beneficial. Providing service without certificate, the fine was fine with him. Holder provides services with unregistered vehicle or driver, $300 was fine. Driver of taxi charges in excess of taximeter, it would depend if they knew. They may not be aware that the vehicle they were leasing was not accurate. The rest of the list seemed fine in his respects. With regard to the purpose and findings, concerning the shuttles, if Juneau was going to be a pleasant tourist destination, 90% of the tourist who come to town have a one shot deal. If the shuttles are not where they are prescribed to be, at some type of a scheduled time period, someone looses out and it would be them. That has been one of the biggest complaints in the industry that they have failed to address. People are very unhappy if a shuttle that has been promised is not there. With regards to the courtesy vehicles, he felt the description was faulty and he believed the operators would use it to exclude themselves from the CPV control when in fact they are providing CPV services. If someone says they actually have to have a courtesy vehicle to operate then they actually need to have a Commercial Passenger Vehicle endorsement. If their business cannot operate without the courtesy, then it is not a courtesy. A hotel operates with or without a courtesy vehicle, but they dont need it. The quality of service standard at the airport and the ferry terminals, he thought if a business were to operate out of those two place, which are open year round, the service should be there year round. It does not make any sense to allow the operations to just discontinue. He echoed Mr. Giolettis statement and proposed that the final hearing process should be heard by a tribunal, preferable the Manager, the City Attorney and a member of that individuals particular field of industry. This would allow for fairness as opposed to an uninformed arbitrary decision and individual being thrown into the expense of Court proceedings immediately thereafter. Resolve and fairness should be the final stamp of the CPV administration prior to any court proceeding.
Ken Deane, P.O. Box 210528, Auke Bay, representing Southeast Alaska Independent Living (SAIL). Mr. Dean testified again for a change in the ordinance to mandate at least one accessible taxi in this town. He did not care who furnished it or what kind of agreement was made to make it happen. It is not right to ignoring the federal law that has been in effect since 1992, someone has to do it. One of the reasons is for out of town people coming into town either on an airplane or on a ferry. When you disembark from them, you have a near impossible task of finding a ride to the hotel. The courtesy vehicles need to have a lift put in them, they are required by law and they avoid it. The situation needs to be addressed and the rules followed from the ADA and someone should step forward and say they will furnish an accessible cab in this town. He referred to the letter from the ADA Committee that Chairmen Earl Clark sent which said "Nothing can be clearer than the issue of accessibility to persons with a disability. No matter what the commercial resolutions to this ___ are, if consideration is not given to the tragic state of affairs in not having a single accessible taxi for a person using a wheel chair than a proposed ordinance is a fraud." They have tried to talk to the cab owners but they get the same story, that it is too expensive. He provided them with documentation of where they could acquire equipped vehicles for a reasonable price. The cab company in Soldotna went to the Independent Living Center and asked how he could best serve them. He bought a lift and put it on his cab and Soldotna now has an accessible cab service. He said soon there would be more pressure on moving disabled people because Alaska Airlines recently bought and have working a lift for putting people into the 727 without going through the jet way. Now planes that land on the tarmac can be serviced so there will be that many more people coming in because they can get on the plane and get off here. The surprise comes when they get in the building and go to the courtesy phones and find out there are none available. Another thing that is happening is that Care-a-van is booked. They have more calls than they have drivers and buses. He said to get to this 5:15 meeting, he had to be picked up at 3:40.
Mr. MacKinnon said incentive language was in the regulations, page 19, line 25. Ms. Hagevig thought it would have more oomph if it was in the ordinance and she asked Mr. Corso if the regulation was more appropriate than ordinance. Mr. Corso said it was enforceable either way; when it is in the regulation it is possible to change it. Mr. Deane said he personally would like to see it put in the ordinance right at the beginning where it asks the questions about the types of vehicles that the operators have. He would like to see it in that line saying at least one accessible taxi. Ms. Hagevig said if there was incentive language in there, she was not sure how to make the translation from telling private business that they had to have a lift. Mr. Deane said they were told that they had to be the same color, and he asked why they could not be told to have a lift.
B R E A K
6:34 p.m. 6:40 p.m.
Ravina Tekaat, 102 North Franklin, partners with Brad Gioletti. She was concerned with the service to the customer which directly is controlled by the number of cabs on the street and the number of cabs that are on the certificate. She was not suggesting a minimum number of cabs but she was concerned about a maximum number of cabs. She has been with Taku Taxi since 1991 first as management and then she and Brad bought it in 1994. At that time it was heavily in debt. The fees that have been constructed are not designed for a business to be economically successful. The number of cabs on the street and on the permits, the maximum number of cabs, regulates the service to the customer because economically the drivers have to be able to make a living to supports them and their families. If they know that they are not going to make a decent living on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, but maybe Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, then they will not come in Sunday through Wednesday because it will end up costing them money to drive. They are all private contractors, they are not employees, and they make their own schedules. Their pocket is what dictates their schedules. In 1992 Capital Cab and Taku Taxi existed. At that time, there were roughly 50 cabs in the city; maybe a couple hundred thousand less tourist were coming in. The drivers at that time, with that number of cabs in the city, were making a fairly decent living because the pie was not cut so thin. The nature of the beast is they really need to be able to support themselves and their families or they are not going to stay here. The cab drivers that stay year round to support the local public during the winter are the ones you want to keep. If there are not enough cabs at the airport, it is because drivers dont want to come out if they cannot assure themselves that they are going to make enough money. When there is a rush at the airport, ones that are in the area will go, make a trip, and it will take 10-15 minutes to get back. In the city, there are calls all over the city that are being taken care of so those people cant go out to the airport so yes, economically, the cabs dont come out and the city suffers from it. Regarding sales tax, in 1992 during the summer months, they would collect from the drivers (probably 36 drivers at the time) between $3,500 and $5,200 collectively each month during the months of June, July, and August. In 1992, July was the hottest month customer wise, revenue wise for the drivers. 1996 the hottest month was August. During the winter months in 1992 sales tax was roughly between $1,700 and $3,000 per month. In 1995 they had fewer drivers and fewer vehicles and sales tax bas between $3 - 4,000 during the summer months and $1,500 to $2,700 during the winter months. In 1998, there are now five cab companies on the road; Taku Taxi had between 15 and 18 cabs on the road and sales tax in the summer months was $2,500 to $3,500. Winter months, $900 to $2,000. The business has really shifted and spread out among the cab companies and the drivers literally starve during the winters. A certain amount of drivers are on subsidized housing income because they dont make enough. She gave a breakdown of the costs for one driver: Insurance $2,200-4,000 depending on the coverage; gas $20-30 a day depending on their vehicle, for a 6 day week that would be $7,488 per year; tires depending on the quality that they buy, they can buy 2-3 sets, $800 for 2 sets; oil changes for 60,000 miles a year, that would be $900 per year; brakes have to be done twice a year because of the number of hours put on the vehicle, $350-400 a break job, if you dont need rotors or drums; tune up twice a year is another $800; general maintenance for lights, detail, exhaust, hub caps, supplies $500. The total expense comes to $15,288. Then there is an airport sticker for $100; a chauffeurs permit is currently $25; criminal history is $25; driving record $10; business license $25; vehicle inspection $65; registration $70; physical exam $70. That brings the expenses to $15,678.00. During the months of June-September, for those 96 days, if they are lucky they will make $180a day. It has gotten less and less with each new cab that is allowed to come on. During the other moths, 192 days, they are lucky to make $105 per day. Maybe once a week they might make an extra $50. That puts their gross fares at $40,000. Subtract sales tax and that makes $38,000, they pay dispatch $11,424 and that brings their income down to $26,000 less their expenses and they may net $11,031. That is not a lot of money and they cannot afford the fees that this ordinance is trying to put on them. It is not feasible and is not right. She said she spoke with a gentleman who insures about 50% of the taxis in Juneau, ABI Insurance. He got on the Internet and got a copy of the ordinance and regulation and briefly read through them. He faxed her information and asked her to present the task force with a request to have a teleconference to help familiarize you with the taxi industry. He owns a taxi company in Thousand Oaks, California; was on the police force for ten years; and has some experience and knowledge that might be helpful.
Mr. MacKinnon asked about the late application fees. Ms. Tekaat commented that there should be another time when local drivers can also get in on that without having a late fee, perhaps at inspection times. New vehicles are put on the road not because they are from out of state but because a vehicle may have gone past its useful time and needs to be replaced. She felt there needed to be a time when people who have dedicated themselves to the industry can put another vehicle on the road. Mr. MacKinnon asked if it were to replace an existing vehicle and there were not additional late fees, would that be sufficient to encourage or help out the year round drivers and not so much the ones who just come in to take advantage of the summer months. Ms. Tekaat said as long as you could take care of the industry and not kill the industry by making it so hard for the drivers to exist. If a chauffeur is responsible for fines and things that he has done wrong then it should go against his chauffeurs permit, not against the persons vehicle that he is leasing from. That could put another person out of business just because he is leasing a vehicle to him. Mr. MacKinnon spent a lot of time with the drivers on Thursday and he said one thing that was brought up was the possibility of establishing fares. Ms. Tekaat said she would love to see standardized rates where every company has the same rate because service would then rule the industry. The current situation allows some companies to charge ridiculously low rates. That creates a vacuum where everyone who does not care about quality and or may really be counting their pennies, goes to that company. Soon there will be too much business for that company to handle so what happens is these people call 4-5 cab companies and they call every cab company to come to one address. Now there are 4-5 cabs converging on this one address which takes a lot of time off another call and the driver loses money because they have gone way out of their way for nothing. With standardized rates, that person will call the company that gives the best service.
Ms. Hagevig asked about limited entry. Ms. Tekaat said limited entry would assure a driver that has a permit and runs on that system that he would be able to make a certain amount of money in a day; he would be able to make a living because the pie would only be cut up so many ways. Ms. Hagevig clarified that she thought that limited entry was something that would need to eventually be looked at and would be good for Juneau. She asked if limited entry would look different in the winter vs. the summer. Ms. Tekaat thought there should be year round permits and seasonal permits. Those only interested in driving during the summer could be charged more. There is not a big need for a lot of cabs to cover the tourists because if we dont take care of them, someone else will. Her company was interested mostly in the local people because they support her company during the winter. She thought a seasonal taxi permit would be a way to reward people who stay here and work year round.
Ray Lemon, P.O. Box 33076, one of the independent contractors, Capital Cab. He said they came to the Assembly years ago for help with the regulations because they were not being enforced. If he was going to write regulations to govern electricians, he would go talk to electricians. None of the people on the Assembly has ever been a cab, shuttle or bus driver. He had hoped that this body would do as Mr. MacKinnon and meet with some of the drivers the other night. What has been done with these regulations is halfway decent but they still need a lot of improvement. He was amused at Mr. Corsos comment that these would need to be re-written twice with in a years period of time. Years ago they asked for ordinances to watch their industry and the first two pages are fines. Line 6, page 3, $100 fine if the owners vehicle is not clean, he said he had a receipt in his car from Garys Detailing. He paid $18.70 for a car wash this afternoon. His car is parked outside the back door and it is dirty. He made three trip to town and back and he asked if he would be fined $100 for having a dirty car. Mr. Rich was correct when he said for $100 he has a CDL that is good for five years. Now the city wants $500 for a chauffeurs license that is good for two years. That does not equate. As Mr. MacKinnon knows, the drivers are running out of money. He also took exception to the buses trying to get out of paying the same fees that the taxis do and not having to adhere to the same regulations that the taxis do. At the Forest Service just a few days ago, they were told they were the same thing. The Forest Service is adding a $3 charge to everyone going to the Glacier this year. It is assumed because a visitor rides in a taxicab that they will go in the Visitor Information Center. They are allowed to collect this fee providing that it is fair and everyone pays the same rate. Not every one has to pay the same rate. Mr. Day and Mr. Rich feel that if taxis are bringing people out there, even though they are only allowed 20 minutes because the drivers are on the clock, which does not give the people the time to go through the Visitor Center which is what the $3 is for. They were told by Mr. Day and Mr. Rich that they are the same so we have to pay that $3 regardless of whether those people go in the center or not. Now, they have come down and in front of this assemblage they have said they are not the same, we dont do the same thing so we should not have to pay the same fees. He said he did not understand this and it did not equate. His vehicle weighs 3,500 and he asked how much damage it does compared to a 42,000 pound motor coach, how much traffic does it block up compared to what traffic the motor coaches block up. He said the tourist hotline last year received only three complaints directed at taxis. The rest were directed at buses. He really enjoys driving a cab here, he is good at it and his clients like him. He enjoys showing off Juneau and has spent a lot of time learning a lot about it, but yet he is looking for different means of employment because he is being forced out of business. His last year net income, after expenses, fits with the other testimony and that is for working 12 hours a day, 5-7 days a week. He would be really interested in talking one on one. He has to meet ever incoming call and he did not think it was fair and when he goes to the Super 8, and the Super 8 is running a shuttle down to the Red Dog or when he goes to the Travel Lodge and the Travel Lodge has a bus load out at the Glacier, and he is having to run, for $2.20, the people that their shuttle is not there for over to the airport. He did not feel that was part of hotel/motel shuttle services and said it was not that way anywhere else. Here the courtesy shuttles, that dont have to pay a dime, nor do their people have to have chauffeurs licenses or go through the same scrutiny that he does, are hauling 10-15 people in those vans ups and down the same highway that he does. That is not fair.
Ms. Hagevig asked if he supported limited entry. He did not think it would work but he did support standardization of rates because he did believe that service would then indicate who would survive and who would not. Standardization of rates would also assure passengers that they would get the same rate for the same ride no matter who was driving. He thought the market place would determine how many people can make a living at it. He supports the fact that there are people who live here year round and he said he chose to make this his profession. He felt that when people like him come down for their chauffeurs license each and every year, they should have to pay whatever fee is decided on. The person who comes down in April and is going to turn around and disappear in September should have to pay more. When registering vehicles, if a car is being replaced, there should not be an additional fee. If he is putting another cab for someone else to lease, he should have to pay an additional fee.
James Harris, 3855 Bayview Street, with Juneau Taxi. He agreed mostly with what Mr. Lemon said and that there should not be a limited entry system. Standardized rates could be considered if there was a feeling of need. With the fees that are being considered, there will not be any drivers; they will do something else. Most of the drivers cannot afford to pay $500 for a license and if they could, they would probably be out driving a dump truck with a CDL license. If that does happen, most likely the rates the taxis charge will go up so they can make up for it. Either way if the taxis have to do it, they will have to come up with the money somewhere to pay for the extra fees. Some of the violations with fines should have warnings. Unsafe vehicles should be defined and if possible, fix-it tickets should be issued. With regards to making a panel, if a permit is suspended or revoked, a 3-5 person panel to listen to the case would be fairer. Some people in the panel should be from the different industries. With regards to an accessible taxi, he thought there should be one. He has looked into it and it would cost $40,.000. It would be nice to help the handicapped people and make it so they dont have to wait two weeks to get a ride but if the money is not there, it cannot happen; an incentive would be good. He had suggested to Capital Transit that he lease one of theirs; he would put it on as a cab, make sure it was run 24 hours per day, and make sure people got their rides quicker. That was a dead end. The ones in Soldotna were done on a grant. Hotel courtesy vehicles should be redefined as airport courtesy shuttles to insure that they know they just go back and forth to the airport and thats it. They dont need to be out at the Glacier. He agreed with having six cabs on the permit, and said it would show who was and was not in business. He did not think it would be fair to push B Independent out because they have been here a long time and have been working hard to try and make their business. With regard to some of the bus lines giving courtesy rides and saying they bring the people up here, that is nice, but the people will come here either way. Alaska gets a lot of tourist but the ones that own hotels and cruise ships should not be allowed to get away with paying less than the taxi drivers. He did not think that his little car that holds 5 people should pay $200 when the coaches that hold 60-70 people only pays $50. He did not like the idea that they are being run out by everything. There are shuttle companies who are shuttle companies, tour companies and wanna-be taxi companies. All these rules say the taxis must be taxis but he thought they should be a shuttle company or a tour company. He did not think there was a need for a limited entry system, just for someone to control the shuttles, airport courtesy vans, and tour companies.
Ms. Hagevig asked if anyone in his cab company offered tours. He said they had a per hour rate. She said if there is a per hour rate, would it be safe to assume that a tour activity happens. He said they were hired on the spot and do whatever the customer wants. She asked if he should have an extra license in order for that to happen and he said no. They are hired by the hour and if a customer want to use them for a couple hours, the law of the state says we have to take them. Ms. Hagevig asked if he agreed with the six cab requirement. He said his understanding was that there needed to be six cabs on the certificate and three cabs running. He did not think that should be too hard to do.
Roland Harris, 9483 Eagle Street, suggested that the community service officer could be hired part time. In the wintertime there are hardly any shuttles or tours going on and there would not be a need for guy, eight hours a day, five days a week for 20 cabs. That cuts his costs down to $30,000 so the fines could be cut in half. There should be regulations and there should be someone out watching for all the companies, but a half time employee is more feasible to him, especially through the winter. For most of the regulations, he felt they were written fairly well. Most cities are pretty strict on cabs, just because of the nature of the business. If someone is going to pay him $40 to drive his cab, he can check into it a little bit, but as an owner of a car he is worried about the $40 a day hes getting, more than whether or not this guy does drugs. There needs to be someone out there watching that. With regards to being allowed to get his license once a year, he asked what happens if a person changes professions or has lost his other job and decides he wants to drive a cab for a while. If he comes in March should he have to pay more. Maybe an out of state license or time requirement should be considered. If the decision is to go with six cabs per company, he felt B Independent should be grandfathered in because they have been here for a long time. Every cab company is going to get busy and roll trips over to someone else. That is going to happen no matter how many cab companies. He said this mainly started because of the shuttles, not because of the tour industry. It was when restaurants got their license by coming in and saying that they wanted to be able to take their customers from the dock to the café. A week after getting their permit, they were saying they wanted to be able to take customers to Costco, Kmart, Freds and the Nugget and they were not taking them to their restaurant at all. 99% of the people who eat at City Café walk there. He has never, in 14 years, seen a restaurant anywhere else doing taxi business. There is a need for summer drivers in this town, that is a given with 10,000 people coming into this town per day. As a business grows, there is a need to put on more cars. He did not think he should be charged a late charge for going in after the deadline to put on another car.
Mr. MacKinnon asked his opinion about standardized rates. Mr. Harris did not think it was good at all. His company has the lowest rates in town and that is how they built their business from 2 cabs to 11-12 now. He thought there should be a minimum and a maximum that could be charged, but there should be allowances for fluctuation. In Anchorage, for the past 4-5 years, they have had the same rates. They had a maximum/minimum but all the cabs got together and decided to charge the same rates. The service went down hill, maybe not because of that. Also what happens when one house calls four companies. They want a cab fast and will take the first one to show up, they obviously dont care about the rates.
Ben Goenett, 226 Seward Street, Island Waterways. He concurred with a number of speaker but said the bottom line was assets minus expenses equals owners equity. He thought it seemed like the industry was getting nickeled and dimed to death whether it is Kirby Day being charged per head by the port authority or whether it was sales tax or permits and fees. He remembered reading in the paper that the citizens were complaining that they could not get on the bus. Mr. Day went out and put on a bus in order to help the crewmembers get to Kmart, Costco and Freds. The cab industry obviously was not filling that need. He thought there was an evolution happening and what was being seen was free enterprise. He agreed the hotels were not being hit as heavy but the people who deal with the cruise ships were being hit. The shuttles fulfil this market nitch, same with the airport and ferry shuttles. He does not want to become a taxi, he wants to remain a airport shuttle and charge one fare to go from the airport to where ever that passenger wants to go. He was very confused because one document does not mirror the other. One defines shuttles very basic and broadly and then the regulations define it the same as it was last year. If you put the two together, nothing has been fixed, especially in his field. Last year his business nearly went out of business and it is nearly being put out of business now because they have no business plan. They dont know what they are going to be this summer yet because of the delay with the regulation. He needs signs, and has to paint his vehicles and this delay has cost his business way too much money. He wanted there to be a fair and level playing field.
Lucille Santos, 925 Capital Avenue, said that City Café started the shuttle out of a need. People coming to the City Café wanted us to drive them to go shopping. From time to time, they would give people rides to where ever they wanted to go in our personal vehicles. That was not good because of the liability so the shuttle came about. The first year, someone ran it for them. They never came to the Assembly to say they wanted to run a courtesy van to their restaurant because they did not need to ask permission to run a courtesy van. They came to the Assembly to ask to run a shuttle to take crew members to go shopping. They do not do tours or anywhere else. They dont do flag stops and are not in competition with anyone; there was a need. They ran the shuttle one year and not the next and received a lot of complaints because the shuttle was not running. This is common practice and a lot of restaurants and business run shuttles to help people who cannot afford to ride a cab. When the fare is pooled together, there is affordable transportation to go shopping, which helps the economy. A lot of the locals are not the ones giving them trouble. The number of cab companies have increased and she probably would not agree to limited entry but her solution would be to go on a ratio system. If a company is going to operate 20 cabs in the summer, then they have to operate a certain number of cabs in the winter. She agreed with standardized rates so that as a consumer, when she calls a cab, she knows what it is going to cost. Regarding the police being involved, she thought administration was great but that they should not be judge and jury when it comes to infractions; maybe there ought to be a panel. She said she thought the work on the ordinance regulation was a great start.
Mr. Garrett announced that the public hearing was concluded. The task force would meet again for a work session in the Chambers at noon on Friday, March 12, 1999.