San Diego’s cap on taxi permits lifted

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The cap on the number of taxi permits was lifted on Wednesday, and having trouble hailing a cab may soon be a thing of the past.

As of April first, the cap on the number of permits allowed in the city goes away.

“How can I make the passenger happy? How can I drive safe? Dress well? How can I smell well? All those things make a difference,” said taxi driver Anthony Inyang.

Taxi drivers like Anthony are stepping up their game now that they are on the list to potentially get their own taxi cab permit.

For Anthony, it is a life changer.

“I have been here in American since 2001. This is like a dream to me, the American dream, opportunity to start dreaming,” said Anthony.

There are 993 permits in the city.

Many owners lease them to other drivers, those leases can pay up to $400 a week.

The change in policy, pushed by Council Member Marti Emerald, levels the playing field.

“If we don’t find equity, if we don’t find a way to offer opportunity to people who want to be in the industry, then our taxi industry is in real danger of disappearing,” said Marti.

This is an emotional issue for Niguse Berhane who has been driving a cab for 17 years around the clock.

He bought his medallion, and made enough money driving his cab to send his kids to college. One is in medical school, and another is at Harvard.

He said there would now be cabs on every corner in San Diego.

“The city’s gonna have mass traffic. Income for everyone is going to be very low. Nobody wins in this situation,” said Niguse.

About 900 drivers have submitted letters of intent to MTS to be eligible for permits.

Every driver has to go through a background check, have a vehicle with low emissions, and present a business plan.

One permit will cost $3,000.

Competition has gone up with car services like Uber and Lyft.

“Simple basic laws of demand and supply. This country is based on competition. Compete according to the rules of the game, so we will see,” said Anthony.

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