Houston loosens taxicab regulations

Loosened taxicab regulations that began at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic became permanent Sept. 15. (Courtesy Pexels)
Loosened taxicab regulations that began at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic became permanent Sept. 15. (Courtesy Pexels)

Loosened taxicab regulations that began at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic became permanent Sept. 15. (Courtesy Pexels)

Loosened taxicab regulations that began at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic became permanent Sept. 15.

Facing decreased revenues from a lack of conventions and large events as well as competition from rideshare companies, the regulations aim to lower operating costs low for taxicab companies by reducing the price of permits and ending a requirement for all cabs to have the same paint style.

The city will also no longer limit the number of permits it distributes, city documents state. Previously, the city only distributed a limited number of permits at a time.

“I think we’ll have just the right number of cabs that can be supported by the people using them,” Council Member Mike Knox said.

Another provision incentivizes taxicab companies to increase their supply of electric vehicles and handicap-accessible vehicles by lowering the costs for these permits.


The changes, approved by city council Sept. 15, reflect a new approach to the city’s relationship with taxicab operators. Prior to the pandemic, the city council approved a plan to sell off all of its remaining permits and to stop issuing permits entirely. It maintained the ability, however, to revoke permits if operators failed to meet safety standards.

At the time, council members in support of the previous plan cited competition from rideshare companies as motivation to divest from the taxicab industry and no longer use the permits as a revenue source for the city. Others expressed concern that it would stifle the industry’s ability to grow in the face of the increased competition.
By Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered public health, education and features for several Austin-area publications. A Boston native, she is a former student athlete and alumna of The University of Texas at Austin.


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