Adding more Taxi permits a hot issue at Anchorage Assembly meeting

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) A significant change for the Taxicab industry in Anchorage fired up dozens of drivers and concerned citizens at an Anchorage Assembly public hearing Tuesday night.

The ordinance from Anchorage Assembly member Bill Evans seeks to make more taxicabs available during high-demand times and increase availability in under-served areas by allowing anyone who meets qualification standards and safety requirements apply for a permit.

The change would allow as many as 116 more taxis on the road by 2021, including ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft.

A public hearing on the ordinance went past 11 p.m. and brought so many people to the December 6th meeting that a fire marshal had to intervene.

“If you want to improve this system adding permits is not the way to do it because there’s not enough business as it is,” said Agnes Kallman, a mother of two who says she often works seven days a week.

Beginning in 2017, an additional 15 permits and five wheelchair-accessible taxicab permits would be available by lottery. Each permit would cost $1,980. By 2021 a total of 116 additional taxicabs could be on the street, including 16 wheelchair-accessible. “There’s been some talk about how there’s no customers, ah I can tell you I’ve taken several trips and come back and dreaded the hour wait at the airport while I wait for 20 other people with no cabs in sight,“ said Ryan McKey.

Among the changes to Title 11, the ordinance would allow a permit to be re-issued under the new guidelines if an applicant seeking a renewal is no longer qualified. The Anchorage Assembly decided to continue the public hearing to its meeting on December 20th.

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