Vista discusses taxicab insurance regulations

Taxicab companies have requested the city lower its insurance requirement. This prompted Vista Deputy Mayor John Aguilera to add regulation as a discussion item at the April 10 City Council meeting.

An uptick in ride-sharing services was the impetus for the taxicab companies’ request.

According to Aguilera, in 2011 the city of Vista raised the insurance requirement to $1 million for taxicabs to operate in the area, which is the amount that was required by the county and other cities.

Aguilera said since that time, ride-sharing transportation models have changed with companies such as Uber, Lyft and Bounce.

“The issue is getting to the point where taxicab companies are not playing on an even playing field,” said Aguilera, noting the upsurge of competition. “The city of San Diego has just recently lowered their (taxicab) insurance requirements down to $350,000. They (taxicab companies) are asking that we do the same in order for them to survive.”

Aguilera also noted that taxicab companies in North County had cut their vehicle inventory in half. Aguilera admitted he has used Uber in the past and noted the convenience of the service.

Still, he said he didn’t want taxicabs eliminated in Vista because the older population in the community are more than likely to use cabs versus Uber or Lyft.

Aguilera reiterated that the taxicab companies were hoping the city of Vista would lower those insurance requirements to make them more competitive and allow them to remain in business.

“In addition to that, I would also like to discuss the idea of either a JPA being set up for taxicabs either through the cities getting together or putting it to some other agency like NCTD (North County Transit District),” Aguilera said. He cited the passage of bill AB-1069, which requires that taxicabs be regulated by an agency or JPA.

Councilwoman Amanda Rigby asked whether any taxicab companies were headquartered in Vista, to which Aguilera replied they were only operating in Vista.

Rigby said she would need to have more information before making a decision.

She said she understood that $1 million is a lot of money, but wanted to know the reasoning behind the amount.

“I’m all for doing what we can to help businesses be more competitive,” Rigby said. “I don’t want to overburden them, but on the other hand, I want to know what was the justification to do it in the first place.”

Council members decided to bring back this topic for discussion and asked staff for supportive information. 

Mayor Judy Ritter said she would likely support the taxicab insurance request.

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