The Urban County Council will probably take a final vote in coming weeks on a proposed ordinance that would loosen requirements for taxi cab companies.
The council's Planning and Public Safety Committee voted 7-2 on Tuesday to send the proposed changes to the council for a full vote.
Some of the changes include decreasing the required number of cabs a cab company must own from 25 to 10; no longer requiring a central dispatch, which can be costly; and allowing taxi cab companies to use software applications instead of traditional meters.
Councilwoman Peggy Henson had proposed the changes to make taxi cab companies more competitive with ride-sharing companies such as Lyft and Uber, which use an application to connect drivers with riders.
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The state recently passed new laws governing ride-sharing companies. But the city of Lexington has its own ordinance and fees for taxi cab companies.
"I know this is not popular with the taxi cab companies, but I do think it's fair," Henson said of the proposed changes.
Lexington currently has only two taxi cab companies.
Ned Sheehy, general manager for Yellow Cab of Lexington, asked the council to delay voting on the changes, saying that the cab companies would like to have more time to look at the changes.
Sheehy said that some of the proposed changes — such as using applications instead of a meter — will probably be more of an issue when they become more prevalent five years from now.
"We are not there right now," Sheehy said.
But Councilwoman Shevawn Akers countered that the proposal didn't require that the cab companies use the software applications — it only gave cab companies more options.
Don Daugherty of Bluegrass Cab, Lexington's other cab company, said he didn't oppose lowering the number of required cabs from 25 to 10. Daugherty cautioned that it was difficult to tamper with a traditional meter, but it's possible to alter computer applications that do the same thing as a taxi meter.
"Meters prevent customers from getting cheated," Daugherty said.
Susan Lamb and Kevin Stinnett were the only two council members to vote against sending the changes to the full council for a vote. Lamb said she thought the city's two taxi cab companies should have had an opportunity to review the changes before Tuesday's meeting. Stinnett said he agreed with some of the proposed changes but not all of them.
Henson countered that she did discuss some of the changes with Sheehy before Tuesday's meeting. Moreover, the council has been debating changes to the city's taxi cab ordinance for several years. Henson said she was recently given some proposed changes to the taxi cab ordinance that dated to the late 1980s.