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City Releases Taxi Franchise Selection Rankings  

By Jonathan Friedman
Lookout Staff

July 12, 2010 -- Responding to “numerous requests for information,” City staff last week released detailed information on how it selected the companies recommended to the City Council for taxi franchises.

City staff last month recommended five of the 13 companies that applied for franchises. Council selection was delayed to the fall supposedly due to technicalities in the approval process. Prior to the meeting at which the selection was supposed to take place, several people protested outside City Hall about the process. They held signs about how many jobs would be lost because of the franchising system, which will reduce nearly in half to 250 the number of taxis in Santa Monica.

The new information includes the ranking of the 13 applicants according to a scoring system and the formula used to determine the scores. City finance director Carol Swindell wrote in the memo to the council that last month’s staff report not containing this information was sufficient.

“Although the previous staff report provides the level of detail that is typical for contractual documents resulting from an RFP (Request for Proposals) process, staff has determined that due to the nature, size and complexity of this franchise award, additional information may be helpful for the council and community,” Swindell wrote.

According to the City memo, three items were weighted the highest in the scoring system. These were 1) proof of financial viability and ability to provide service in compliance with City laws, 2) experience, 3) proposed business and management plan.

The other items included in the scoring system were age and condition of taxis, including the number of vehicles meeting low-emission standards (15 percent); local preference (8 percent); character of people involved with the company (5 percent); proposed discount fares for senior and mobility impaired customers (3 percent); quality of dispatch and communication system; (3 percent); quality of driver training, testing, supervision and employee benefits plan (3 percent) and operator/driver financial relationships (3 percent).

The ranking of the companies recommended for franchises and their scores on the 100-point scale were Metro Cab Co. (79.04), Yellow Cab (78.82), Independent Cab Co. (72.43), Bell Cab (72.15) and TMAT Corp. (67.66). The five companies have been recommended for a fleet of 50 taxis each.

The council approved the franchise system last year after reviewing a study about the existing taxi situation. Santa Monica has 44 companies operating in the city with a total of more than 460 vehicles. Many people, including City officials, say this is too many, and leads to congestion, pollution from idle vehicles and other problems.

The selection was delayed last month because City Manager Rod Gould said the City Charter requires a two-step process for approving franchises. The final approval at the second meeting must take place within 60 days of the first meeting. And Gould said with the current council schedule, there was no meeting within the 60-day timeframe that was without a full agenda and could accommodate the second vote.

The franchises are expected to go into effect in January.

 


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