There are almost 1,300 on-call and airport taxis licensed to operate in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis county. They are owned and operated by private companies, ranging in size from large to solo. Several people complained yesterday ' and last year and in years before ' about the long wait for cabs on a night when we were actively urging alcohol- or fatigue-impaired drivers to leave their cars and find a different way home.
After looking at the numbers, I agree with the complainers. Far fewer than the permitted numbers of cabs were actually operating on New Year's Eve and early on New Year's Day. While the decision to work or not is generally a private business decision, taxicabs operate in a regulated environment that tries to ensure the safety of passengers AND protect the livelihood of drivers by restricting cars-for-hire to licensed operators.
That protection may give citizens the right to ask cab companies and drivers to make a greater effort to put their taxis on the road on a night the public good requires it ' or, if not, it may force us to address the issue at the level of the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission, which already shares our concern.