Hightstown Passes Taxi Licensing Ordinance
Five companies will be licensed in town.
Hightstown’s Borough Council passed a taxi-licensing ordinance with a 4-2 vote Monday that clears the way for five companies and an unlimited number of cabs to be licensed in the Borough.
After licenses are distributed to owners and drivers, customers can expect to see both the vehicle license and driver’s taxi license displayed in the cab (see photo to the right).
Drivers that display these credentials have undergone a criminal background check, are legally eligible to work in the United States, have a New Jersey driver’s license and can read, write and speak English “sufficiently to converse with the general public, to understand highway traffic signs and signals in the English language, to respond to official inquiries, and to make entries on reports and records,” according to the ordinance.
If a driver’s criminal background check reveals a history of serious crimes, including homicide, sexual assault, burglary and aggravated assault, they will not be issued a license.
Juan Chuisaca, a Hightstown resident and an owner at Yellow Cab East Windsor, thanked the council and police director for working with the cab owners and bringing community concerns to them so they could fix the issues. Chuisaca responded to a past request from council member Robert Thibault asking cab companies for data on how much cabs are used in town. He said his company has implemented a system so if data is asked in the future he can provide it.
“We need to hear concerns of the community as well as we need to know what are the things we need to follow, just to make sure we do everything right,” Chuisaca said.
The newly passed ordinance also sets a minimum insurance requirement for taxicabs, which includes $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident for bodily injury or death and $50,000 per accident for property damage.
Before passing the ordinance the council voted to eliminate the bidding process for any licenses that exceed the limit of five. Gail Doran said removing that portion of the ordinance would sway her original ‘no’ vote.
“On behalf of everyone in the community I really want to say thank you,” said Ana Pazmino, a member of Unidad Latina en Acción in Hightstown, during the public hearing on the ordinance. “We’ve worked one-on-one and I really feel like this is an issue that needed the community involvement, and we hope that we can also keep on working with you. There’s some other issues too that I think that are part of the community. We want to avoid the racism, we want to avoid to taking sides.”
Council members Thibault and Susan Bluth voted against the ordinance. Bluth said the insurance minimum was too low, and Thibault said a limit needed to be established on the number of licensed taxicabs.
In July, a tie-breaking vote by Mayor Steven Kirson introduced the proposed ordinance after disagreement between council members over the number of cabs and minimum insurance requirement for companies.