Germantown Cab shuts down for weekend under PPA pressure

Posted: August 10, 2014

Responding to a threat of taxi impoundments by the Philadelphia Parking Authority, Germantown Cab Co. will not be providing taxi service this weekend, the company's general manager said Friday night.

The PPA had ordered the taxi company "out of service" as of noon Friday for allegedly failing to allow biannual safety inspections by the authority and refusing to identify its drivers.

Late Friday afternoon, the company was still running taxis in the city. Vincent J. Fenerty Jr., the PPA's executive director, acknowledged the situation and said taxi inspectors would be out in force to track down Germantown Cab vehicles and impound them.

About 9 p.m., Joseph Gabbay, Germantown Cab's general manager, said in an interview that he was pulling more than 200 drivers off the streets.

"More than 200 families are affected," he said.

Gabbay complained that because he also operates in the suburbs, he is regulated by the state Public Utility Commission. He said his company should not also be regulated by the PPA, which oversees city cabs.

"It's dual regulations with conflicting standards," he said. He said he pays assessments to the PUC and should not have to also pay the PPA, which, according to Gabbay, wants to bill him $262,000 to operate in the city through 2015.

Germantown Cab has argued in court that it falls under the authority of the PUC. Commonwealth Court sided with the Parking Authority, which took over taxi regulation in Philadelphia in 2005.

Fenerty said that without PPA safety inspections, Germantown Cab could be operating dangerous vehicles.

"They could have felons driving the cabs," Fenerty said. "We don't know."

Gabbay said the driver information was provided to the PPA, as it was to the PUC. He said he offered to again provide the information to the PPA on Friday, but officials told him to wait until an administrative hearing scheduled for Monday. As a result, he said, he might seek an injunction before Monday.

Germantown Cab is not a medallion company, but a "partial rights" company, meaning it can operate only in Germantown and parts of North Philadelphia, Fenerty said.

The company can pick up or drop off people outside that area, but the other end of the trip must be within its designated zone. For example, Fenerty said, its cabs cannot cruise in Center City looking for fares.

No other city taxi company is defying the PPA, he said.

"Germantown Cab has used every excuse to avoid complying with the regulations," Fenerty said. "We will no longer permit them to ignore the rules and potentially jeopardize public safety."

Gabbay said no other company has to submit to regulation by the state and city.

"The bottom line is, I serve low-income people in the neighborhood who are not served by the other cabs," he said.




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