Have any idea what the ratio of cabs to residents is in your town? Me neither. Do you care? Me neither. But apparently some towns do. And since I was drunk (according to the man) in Santa Monica on Friday night and happy to say we cabbed it everywhere, casual conversation with the cabby shed new light on the city cutting the fleet.
Bethel, Alaska happens to have a 1:84 cab per resident ratio. (Thanks to our friends at Jalopnik for this bit of trivia.) Apparently flying or barging in your car, since it is inaccessible by road, keeps out the pick’em up trucks. That and $12,603 per capita income. New York has, drum roll please, a 1:149 taxi/resident.
So why is the City of Santa Monica bent about the 522 permitted cabs for a city that has about 91,000 residents? Their ratio equals 1:174 which is less than New York and doesn’t even touch the music festival porta-potty-like-lineup that Bethel must draw. You would think things would be copacetic. Hardly.
First off there is not enough business to support couch-on-wheels motoring from the prescribed hot spots according to officials. Cabs often end up in LA wondering the streets and back alleys trying to snag a fast one. 20 of the 55 companies have just one vehicle while another 23 own between two and 10. Since they all try to undercut each other and Santa Monica has no regulated rates, you’ve got cabbies working six days a week making $24,000 a year. Move to a franchised system and you get consistent service and pricing, they say. You also cut congestion and pollution. But who really wins? The cab company, the city? Certainly not the little guy and if the rates go up, certainly not the drunk.
I plan to follow this more in the upcoming weeks. I know, I know, you can’t wait!