Members of the Public Speak Out on Hightstown Taxi Ordinance
The ordinance was unanimously introduced at Monday's council meeting.
Members of Hightstown’s Hispanic community protested the taxi ordinance at Monday’s council meeting, which was approved for introduction.
Close to 50 people showed up to oppose the limit of 20 cabs the ordinance calls for, with many stating there is a greater need for more in town.
Taxi company owners, including Juan Chuisaca, owner at Yellow Cab East Windsor, and Guillermo Saquicela, president at Tu Amigos, told the council they are willing to work with them on the ordinance and the licensing it calls for, but the cab limit is too low for the amount of customers they serve.
Dave Schraeger, coordinator of communications at Unidad Latina en Acción NJ, a non-profit organization in Hightstown and East Windsor, presented a letter to council on behalf of the organization stating the limit on cabs would hurt people who don’t have cars and need to go to work, school, the doctors office or anywhere else around town.
“I commend you for the message you promoted,” Mayor Steven Kirson said to the public on the objection to the ordinance.
Council meeting regular Phyllis Deal, of Stockton Street, said the taxis are a business and if they didn’t have the demand, they would organically go out of business.
“How can you regulate how many businesses are in a town,” Deal asked the council. “I can’t see how this is any different.”
Another meeting regular, Eugene Sarafin, of South Main Street, said when you do the math comparing the number of cabs to the amount of people in the community who want to take cabs, it does not add up.
“It [the ordinance] doesn’t serve the community, I can see why they’re [members of the Hispanic community] here concerned,” Sarafin said.
The ordinance, which was originally revised to realign with the state mandate, calls for licenses to be distributed to five companies, with a maximum of four cars per company.
Included in the ordinance, which spells out licenses are needed for both drivers and owners, is the requirements for each license.
The insurance requirement for owners is “$50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident for bodily injury or death and $50,000 per accident for property damage,” according to the ordinance.
Also in the ordinance, drivers “must be able to read, write and speak the English language 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.”
Council member Robert Thibault said the ordinance has been discussed at several council meetings and reflects public input from those meetings.
“It has been a very open and long process,” Thibault said, noting, “I would entertain an increase in the 20 cab limit if and only if the demand is there.”
Several council members, including Thibault, Susan Bluth and Gail Doran also said they still felt the insurance requirement was too low.
All six members of council voted in favor of introducing the ordinance and a public hearing and second reading will be held at the May 7 council meeting.
For the complete ordinance, see the PDF on the right of this article.
Do you think 20 cabs is enough for Hightstown Borough, or is there a need for more? Patch wants to know what you think. Vote in the poll below and tell us why you voted in the comments.