Drivers for an out-of-town taxi company are racking up $500 fines and being harassed, a driver and a company representative complained Monday.
Their pleas for relief met with a firm recital of the law from Corporation Counsel David Minchello: Companies not licensed in Plainfield cannot pick up passengers here.
But one speaker alleged police are stopping and ticketing drivers who are just passing through from North Plainfield to South Plainfield. A driver said her Soria taxi was once surrounded by three police cars even though she had no passengers, embarrassing her and making her feel like a criminal.
Part of the pressure to exclude outside taxi companies is coming from the Plainfield ones that hold a total of 53 licenses.
Representatives of Soria Taxi have complained in the past that they want a city license, but cannot get one because Plainfield has reached or exceeded the number of licenses that can be issued. The number is based on population, City Clerk Abubakar Jalloh said.
The city's taxi ordinance has not been updated for more than a decade, as noted in this 2008 Plaintalker post on taxi rates.
No matter how the speakers Monday framed their concerns, the bottom line was that unlicensed companies or drivers are not allowed to pick up passengers here.
The taxi industry in Plainfield declined after passage of the ordinance that set rules for drivers' apparel, colors of taxis, rates and many more aspects of service. Latino-owned companies led a resurgence about 10 years ago, as described in this post.
Also in public comment Monday, Chamber of Commerce President Jeffery Dunn asked how the city is going to deal with Uber and related companies. Minchello said the city has not yet been approached by Uber.