Taxi drivers in Arlington shot the first salvo in the cab wars over the bow of the county board.
In a report delivered to the county board Saturday, drivers are asking for a system they say would put more competition into the market.
Cab drivers say the plan asks the county to allow cabs to move more easily from one company to another.
Currently, the county regulates both the number of cabs on the streets--765--and how many cabs each company can have.
Those numbers are reviewed every other year in even years.
The argument is that if the companies can more fluidly change how many cabs they have, and if drivers who own their own cars could change companies more easily, the companies must fight to keep the cars and drivers, said Ahmed Benaddi, who spoke to the Arlington Mercury on Saturday.
They will gain more competition without putting more cabs on the streets, Benaddi said.
The companies do not own all of the cabs in their fleets. Many are owned by the drivers, such as Benaddi.
The competition between company owners to keep cabs in their companies would bring lower fares and better service, Benaddi said.
However, the Chief Operating Officer of Arlington-based Envirocab says that's not so.
All the cabbies would go to non-dispatcher systems where the cabs just patrol the streets looking for fares.
They would avoid having to work for anyone but themselves, said Cord Thomas, Envirocab’s COO.
People would no longer be able to call a dispatcher for that trip to the hospital or airport, Thomas told the Mercury.
Thomas called that ability to call someone the true public good that must be protected.
His company runs 50 taxis and the proposal would "shut down Envirocab," Thomas said.
This comes before the County begins this year's biennial assessment of the system.
Board member Walter Tejada took a stand at the county board meeting with the cabbies.
"I am hoping we'll be in a routine that the cabbies are at the table," Tejada said during the board meeting.
County manager Barbara Donnellan said that has always been the case, though Tejada disagreed.
Envirocab's Thomas said he was unable to get a meeting with Tejada, though he has been trying for weeks.
Thank you for watching. I’m Steve Thurston, ArlingtonMercury.org.