City Changes Regulations, Lower Fees for Taxi Drivers at San Jose Airport

The San Jose City Council on Tuesday worked out a compromise on regulations to try to appease angry taxi drivers and encourage ridesharing companies such as Lyft and Uber to return to Mineta San Jose International Airport.

Council members on Tuesday unanimously approved a package of looser regulations and lower fees for drivers, which will be reviewed by the city in two weeks before going into effect.

The decision puts taxi drivers under the same regulations and fees placed on ridesharing companies allowed to operate at the airport.

San Jose previously took a tough stand when it told ridesharing companies it had to follow the same regulations as taxi drivers. But that all changed when Uber, Lyft and other companies snubbed the airport, prompting the city to scramble for a solution.

Council members voted last week to drop the fingerprinting requirement for ridesharing companies, a turnaround taxi drivers called a "slap."

"It's very hard to send a message saying, 'Hey, I drive a cab. I have a family. I do a number of different things,'" said Tony Alexander with Taxi San Jose. "And a lot of times politicians don't recognize that."

The council, among other things, on Tuesday decided to also drop the fingerprinting requirements for taxi drivers.

Instead, police will conduct regular audits on a small percentage of all drivers, reviewing criminal histories and checks for outstanding warrants.

Some taxi drivers preferred maintaining stricter regulations.

"Uber drivers -- they just grab the license and start making money," said Rahul Malick, San Jose Airport Drivers Association president. "And the money they make is the money I lose."

Taxi drivers reluctantly went along with the proposed compromise, and that taxis and ridesharing drivers must now coexist.

"Yeah, they can coexist at the airport," taxi driver Kebede Kaba said. "Customers need an alternative, but that should be regulated fairly for both of us."

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