2009 - Out-of-town taxis waiting for fares
An eight-year battle between city-licensed and outside taxis went to DEFCON 1 Monday with a towing penalty added to an already stringent schedule of fines.
The City Council vote for final passage of the towing penalty was 5-2, with Barry Goode, Joylette Mills-Ransome, Cory Storch, Charles McRae and Council President Rebecca Williams voting "yes" and Bridget Rivers and Diane Toliver voting "no." Rivers and Toliver sympathized with North Plainfield taxi owners and staff who said they live in Plainfield and the penalty would take bread out of their children's mouths.
More than a dozen people spoke before the vote, rehashing arguments for and against the penalty. Some said customers deserved to choose any taxi they wanted, while others said the outside competition was harming those who played by Plainfield's rules.
"The owners have complied," a dispatcher for Liberty Taxi said Monday.
He said drivers once made $80 to $100 per shift, but taxis not licensed in Plainfield are causing that "river of revenue" to dry up.
But a dispatcher for Soria Taxi of North Plainfield said, "We want justice," and claimed Soria had the "right to work in Plainfield."
"I live in Plainfield and I have the right to work in Plainfield," he said. "I beg for your help."
In opposition, a Plainfield taxi employee said the outside companies are out "not only to share the market, but to snatch it."
A representative of Queen City Yellow Taxi told the council, "We're being invaded."
In 2009, fines for outside taxis soliciting fares ranged from $300 for a first offense to $800 for a third offense. In 2014, fines increased to a maximum of $2,000. Still, there was a perception that business was so lucrative that the outside companies considered even high fines just another cost of doing business, hence the towing penalty.
Opponents of adding the towing penalty raised the specter of a family or elderly person and all their groceries being dumped out if a police officer ordered a taxi to be towed. Increased fear of deportation under President Donald Trump's crackdown on immigrants added to the fear of getting stranded.
The ordinance will take effect in 20 days.