There's No Such Thing As A Free Ride: Cab Ordinance Not Being Enforced, Says One Local Company

(Gillette, Wyo.) On Tuesday the owner of DC Cab was able to speak at the end of a City Council meeting, to an address an issue he believes is widespread and ongoing in the community. Mark Collins claims that some who have failed to meet requirements to become licensed taxi drivers with his company have showed up on the Facebook ridesharing group "Designated Drivers of Gillette," offering rides to people. And not always for free, like the group claims. It's something he says has been happening since New Year's. "We've been told they're charging $5 for a crosstown ride, to $10 a mile," Collins told the Council. "They're not meeting the requirements of the ordinance that you have in place." Today the City released a reminder of that ordinance, under Chapter 19 of City Code, which was enacted April of 2015. It applies to Public Transportation, Taxi Cabs and Vehicles for Hire and requires a process for owners and operators of public transportation to follow, in order to ensure safe service and travel. Under the ordinance, "for hire" means driving someone in exchange for any form of monetary remuneration. That includes fares, tips, contributions, donations, or the exchange of anything of value through barter. The Police Department stated that while it encourages making a plan for a designated driver, it must also enforce existing laws and rules. "With over 1000 members on their Facebook group, it's hard to keep track of them all," said cab driver Christina Wissler. "It's difficult for us to hire drivers, they'll have to pay to get registered with us, when they could be out there doing the same thing [through this group] without having to pay." The city ordinance also details requirements for vehicles being used as taxis. It states that every taxi has to have a permanent form of identification, like a company logo, on two sides of the cab, that includes the name of the company and their phone number. Taxis also have to have the proper lighting on top to operate in the city. This is something Wissler says even registered cab businesses in the city aren't complying to. Mayor Carter-King promised the Council plans to look in to it. Though the Designated Drivers Facebook group is not exactly like Uber or Lyft, which utilizes a smartphone app and does charge a fee, Uber fares are calculated by the type of car being used. This is reportedly similar to what some "DD" drivers are using as a pricing structure when they accept cash for rides. Uber drivers, like the designated drivers in Gillette, are also not licensed as cab drivers, they only have to pass a background check. This is a trend that has been quickly expanding across the United States and brings concerns about unregulated transportation companies. However, the number of DUIs in the county per week is also a cause for concern, and it's something repeated over and over on the Facebook page: "Don't drink and drive!" We contacted the administrators of Designated Drivers of Gillette for their side of the story, but they have yet to respond. The City said in a statement today: "With our commitment to this effort, we will be developing and implementing directed enforcement activities to ensure compliance in this area." If you'd like to review Chapter 19 of the City Code for yourself, you can read it here . *Photo h/t DC Cab // Pitchengine Communities* #county17 #news