Taxi Medallion Committee: lost on a back road

The moderator’s Taxi Medallion Committee is lost and is hitting many bumps on a rough back road.

For years the town has been on a journey of exploration, looking for better Brookline taxis. The town is seeking to discover the secret of navigating from hackney licenses, renewed annually, to perpetual medallion licenses for Brookline’s 185-cab taxi fleet. Back in 2008, the Transportation Board and the Board of Selectmen dropped the route that Bruce Schaller, the consultant hired in 2006, provided. In 2010, with Richard LaCapra, another consultant, as a new guide, the Board turned onto an unmapped, never-before-used road that LaCapra claimed he knew about and recommended. (It involves multiple “tiers” of licenses.)

At a meeting of the committee yesterday, committee member Jeremy Kushner, a Brookline resident who used to drive a cab in New York City, asked Mr. LaCapra if he knew any other community in the country that had used this road. Mr. Kushner said he thought it would be a good idea to check with other such communities to see how well their trip turned out and maybe learn from their experiences regarding nasty potholes, wrong turns, detours and any other perils or problems. Mr. LaCapra admitted that no other community, to his knowledge, has followed the route that he recommended for Brookline.

Chad Ellis, a committee member and a Precinct 12 town meeting member, said that he believes that the town is lost and should try to find a way out to more known, less risky territory. He suggested that the moderator’s committee, the Transportation Board and the Board of Selectmen have journeyed into a very confusing labyrinth. However, Mr. Ellis, who had been working over financial calculations for medallions, hit a tremendous pothole. Committee member Michael Sandman, also an Advisory Committee member and a former chair of the Transportation Board, found an error in his calculations.

Amid El-Khoury, another committee member and general manager of Hello Taxi, seemed like a deer caught in the headlights. His revenue, he said, is down 40 percent; unless the town reaches its destination soon, his company will be out of business.

Mr. Sandman, realizing that the journey is not going well, stopped to ask for directions. He asked a passerby, Naiff Bethoney, an owner of Bay State Taxi. Mr. Bethoney, a member of the audience, had come to watch the travelers. Mr. Bethoney responded that he does not answer hypothetical questions.

This is the way it went for the moderator’s Committee on Taxi Medallions on Monday, July 21, in the fourth floor conference room at Brookline Town Hall.

– David Lescohier, Brookline, MA, July 22, 2014

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