LA's cab quandry: Go Brown

Los Angeles officials have decided to pop the hood on the city's taxicab ordinance, which is all good, except that the whole thing has left residents to wonder "whadaya mean when you say 'taxi?'"

A lot of us have seen the Mann movie, and that Scorsese film too. We've even glimpsed those yellow cars stacked up on World Way at LAX, though none of us would be caught dead on a theme-park ride like that (they just go round and round, right?). Besides, have you ever actually priced a cab ride from LAX to anyplace you'd want to go? The answer — $42.00 just to get downtown — sounds a lot like the reason we get confused when anyone other than a weather girl uses "hail" as a verb.

Who knew LA actually discriminates against taxi drivers? Today's story in the Los Angeles Times says LA has "some of the most stringent taxicab regulations in the country."

Cabbies can't pick up passengers in bus zones, alongside red curbs or on busy streets when no-parking rules are in effect. During rush hour, the city's busiest streets become "No Stopping" zones, in which drivers can be ticketed for loading.

Veronique de Turenne, at the LAT's LA NOW blog, previewed the issue yesterday following a meeting at City Hall, the result of which was a bureaucratic sig alert — the city’s Transportation Department was asked to prepare a detailed report.

But maybe commissioning another analysis is the wrong way to approach this problem.

No doubt, LA traffic is already bad enough, what with all the cars wanting to turn, and the buses wanting to stop, and those pedestrians in the crosswalks actually WALKING in LA. And where did these bicycles come from? Do we really want to exacerbate that situation by adding more drivers distracted by dispatchers (the very reason suicide knobs were invented)?

Perhaps what this paradigm needs is a gear shift, a great big one, like in those big, brown UPS vans, which already seem to park with impunity any damn place they please everywhere I go in LA.

Seriously, I don't think The Big Brown Machine ever met a red zone it didn't like, whether it blocks traffic or not, and maybe that could be transformed into a benefit. Maybe UPS is part of the solution.

In this particular case, double parking may not be a double standard, but rather a matter of double happiness. Packages have to get where they're going same as people. So, couldn't the city just get with these guys and work out a mutually beneficial system that doesn't come back to bite us in the back of our brown shorts? Why not let us hop on board the next idle van we see, cop a squat on something solid, and hold tight til the neighbor's house?

Of course, getting the neighbor to sign for us is going to create a whole other set of problems, but we'll request a detailed analysis of that situation when we get to it.

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