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L.A. pedestrians allowed to hail a cab

May 16, 2008 7:55:57 AM PDT
It's a tradition in New York City, and easy to do at LAX. Now, people who've always wanted to flag down a taxi cab in downtown Los Angeles will get their chance, thanks to a pilot program. L.A. taxi drivers -- you expect them to be safe, you expect them to be courteous, just don't expect them to stop for you. That's because the city of Los Angeles doesn't allow cabbies to pull over for people who try to hail them.

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City Councilmember Jan Perry is looking to change that. She wants a six-month trial period allowing cabbies to pick up people who flag them down.

"I think the results will show that people will like it, will like the flexibility, and cab drivers are obviously going to like it because they will be able to earn more money," said Perry.

But is the change really going to make that big a difference? In downtown L.A. there are big skyscrapers, busy streets, people walking around ... yet there are no taxis to hail. That's because most of them sit in designated taxi areas, usually outside big hotels waiting to take people to LAX. Or they pile up at LAX, waiting for people heading home or to the hotels.

But with gas around 4 bucks a gallon, trolling the streets for fares, we're told, just isn't worth it.

"Flagging down a cab is not that easy," said one L.A. resident. "But Los Angeles is not a cab town, like San Francisco or New York."

Those are the places where the streets run yellow with cabs. But here in L.A., people have a long list of reasons to avoid taxis.

"One, because they're hard to find; two is because they're usually a lot more heavily priced," said Long Beach resident Nathan Adams.

We did a very unscientific experiment to see if we could get a taxi to pull over for us. So I waited and waited, and after several minutes, finally a taxi rolls into view.

I hail -- and he leaves me in the dust. Not that taxi drivers are rude; I also tried hailing a bus, with no luck. And even a minivan shot me down.

But things may be changing if the taxi-hailing trial program is well-received.

Maybe all L.A. really needs is a little pick-me-up.

 

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