In an apparent effort to boost the city's allegedly struggling cab industry (more on that later) the City of Houston has granted city cab drivers an extension when it comes to retiring old cabs.
The five-year limit for taxicab service has been extended an additional year. The temporary modification to the city ordinance is intended to keep cab drivers with older vehicles from having to buy another cab. Instead, they can apply for a one-time extension, which the city says will subject that cab to a "rigorous, third-party safety inspection."
But is the cab industry in Houston really struggling? If it is, I wonder why cab drivers in town so often ignore people hailing them, or refuse customers service if they don't have cash, or if they need to go somewhere outside of where the driver deems convenient. It's not a condemnation of all Houston cab drivers — I've taken the same driver almost every weekend since I moved back to town more than a year ago.
But it's because of other independent drivers who routinely refuse service, manipulate the meter or invent late-hour fees that we're driven to exclusively use the one driver we trust.
It's a widespread problem in other major cities, as well, although Houston is one of the few in which I've never laid eyes on a modern credit card machine in a cab.
What do you think? Are Houston-area cab drivers getting the assistance they need, or would they do better to start actually accepting customers and their money?