By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Taxi service has been a fertile field for Oxford entrepreneurs. One can buy rides in vehicles from minivan to Hummer-based limo or even a street-legal trolley.
While taxis sometimes serve tour groups or shuttle conference-goers during the day, their busiest times are evenings, when they typically take people to and from downtown restaurants and bars.
City officials are considering some changes to the taxi regulations and their enforcement.
“The main thing is we’re getting so many taxi companies,” Police Chief Mike Martin said. “I hate to use the word ‘regulate,’ but we need to organize it. We need some conformity to where the citizens are protected.”
One of the current protections is that every taxi driver has to pass a police background check.
“Sometimes it’s hard for us to keep up with it, and sometimes there are people operating taxis without a license or any background check,” Martin said.
Shane McKinney, manager of Rock Star taxi, said his biggest concern with the city is that police are too quick to order taxis to move on when riders start boarding unexpectedly in the middle of a block.
“We can’t always pull over,” he said. “These (passengers) are drunk, and they’re in the middle of the street, and they want a ride. We can’t make them hurry up.”
Mayor George “Pat” Patterson said city officials will get taxi owners’ input before recommending any new regulations, probably in November, and that all issues will be on the table.
“We want to make sure they have liability insurance, correct identification, correct tags,” he said. “We’re looking at the possibility of requiring meters. We’re looking at all aspects of the taxi business.”