Thursday, October 18, 2012

Gotta Go?

Gotta Go Taxi is one of nine companies servicing Amherst 

Amherst Police Chief Scott Livingstone will meet with the owner of GottaGo taxi tomorrow to discuss a weekend incident noted in APD logs.

After pulling over a GottaGo taxi around midnight Friday, initially for a broken tail light and not having the "taxi" sign illuminated, the officer also found the commercial vehicle that carries the general public had a rejection sticker, the taxi was unlicensed and the right front tire and left rear tires were missing lug nuts. Yikes!

The company owner also refused to come to the scene when called by dispatch.

The taxi industry has grown exponentially in Amherst just in the past half dozen years going from one or two operations to a peak of ten. Oftentimes at party houses taxis will stream to the scene and unload a cargo of students like those little cars in  a circus clown act.

According to Chief Livingstone the inspection and enforcement end of taxi regulation has fallen into the lap of APD.  About half the taxis doing business in town have thus far been inspected and carry a yellow sticker, like a Good Housekeeping seal of approval.

The town is working on a new set of regulations that will go into effect January 1st and will require the installation of fare meters, an expensive upgrade to existing fleets that may stimulate a few more companies to withdraw from this competitive market.

Gotta Go taxi at the scene of Hadley Hoe Down down last month


Anonymous said...

I once had to take Gotta Go Taxi home from the emergency room. I was scared for my life driving with the (like intoxicated) madman driving the van; more so than having to go to the hospital!

There was a Bud Light can he scurried under the front seat upon entering the taxi, and he proceeded to drop some poor guy off who'd been waiting to get home to Hadley for about 2 hours!

Anonymous said...

If you need a Gotta Go Taxi, you can usually find one in front of Liquor 44. Sometimes they show up in pairs.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it always the job of the police to make sure vehicles are registered, insured, and fit for travel?

I sure hope "the good taxis" can afford to pay for the meters.

Let's not go back to zero taxis! That was the dark ages -- and made it impossible for some of us to get back from the CDH ER!

Anonymous said...

Larry, do you plan to cover the cover up going on at Amherst College regarding the sexual assault/rape?

Anonymous said...

He's a blogger not a reporter.

Dr. Ed said...

This story raises three things.

First, the dramatic increase in the taxi business is in respond to demand for their service, which itself shows the extent to which the PVTA is no longer meeting transportation needs in Amherst.

Second, one has to ask why the APD can't/doesn't view taxi safety enforcement as important as busting underaged drinkers or loud stereos. There are all kinds of ways to do this, not the least being simply having plainclothed cops take taxi rides and -- like "cops in shops" -- busting those who do things they ought not.

Third, and the Select Board ought to put this into the Amherst taxi license ordinance if it isn't already -- when an officer cites one of the fleet's vehicles for a *serious* safety violation, the entire fleet should be "out of service" until each and every vehicle is inspected.

The simplest way would be to use the Federal Commercial Vehicle list of what constitutes a "serious violation" requiring a CMV to be "taken out of service" -- missing lug nuts, yes; cracked tail light, no.

And as to the allegedly intoxicated driver, ought that not have been reported to someone -- possibly someone wearing a blue uniform -- at the time????

Anonymous said...

Dr. Ed,

The PVTA is adequately meeting the transportation needs in Amherst, especially for the sober, civil people (the few of them) that are out at the times of night taxis are driving dangerously and unprofessionally around town.

The problem is that many students are either too drunk or stupid to read a bus schedule, or too entitled to wait the 15-20 minutes for a bus from Puffton or the Townehouses to Amherst Center. I drive for UMass Transit, and have personally seen students getting in the trunks of sedans in Puffton on more than one occassion just to get downtown, whilst the bus fifteen feet behind them was nearly empty and going the same place.

Taxi drivers, by and large, are the most dangerous and unprofessional drivers on the road, with obviously some of the most defective vehicles. The way taxi drivers operate their vehicles in Amherst is simply appalling, and downright dangerous. If you're a student, and you need to get from the bars to your home in the Amherst area, it is much safer and less expensive to hop on a UMass Transit bus. Students just need to put down the Keystone Light and check a schedule.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Ed,

What makes you think that APD doesn't view taxi safety enforcement as important? The blog did talk about the enforcement that led to this article. The blog did mention that the police department had performed inspections. The blog did mention that the town was coming up with new regulations. Did you read the blog at all or do you just like to drum up nonsense?

Dr. Ed said...

What makes you think that APD doesn't view taxi safety enforcement as important?

What I wrote was "as serious as" -- which is a relational comparison and not what is alleged to be above.

Does the APD invest the same number of officer-hours in taxi enforcement that it does in liquor law enforcement? We all know there are/were APD "stakeouts" of the Liquor 44 parking lot watching for kegs being purchased (which raises interesting issues because it is in Hadley) -- have/are there similar undercover surveillance of the taxi fleet?

We all have heard of "cops in shops" -- not a bad idea, but what about "cops in cabs" -- why not have the probationary officers and cadets simply take taxi rides places -- if you take it "as seriously as", you would be doing this.

I really do have issues with expecting the owner of any small business that operates on a 24/7 basis to instantly appear downtown at midnight, I know the APD is busy at times, but why isn't the APD's day shift in routine non-confrontational contact with these companies?

I would think that the RMV would tell the local LEO when a taxi registration isn't renewed - it is a special plate designation, isn' it? If they don't, or even if they do, simply run all the plates of all the taxis in town through the computer every few months - it would be a good training exercise for new dispatchers.

If a vehicle isn't registered as a taxi anymore, but still is listed in their fleet, someone ought to be asking someone something, ought they not?


Yes, I suspect the officer suspected he would find a lot more when he stopped that taxi for the broken taillight, and he well may have known what he was looking for. And yes, I know of the new regulations although I would much rather see something similar to what DC used to have - anywhere within the 10 square mile District for a flat rate -- companies able to charge an "anywhere within Amherst/Hadley/Northampton" flat rate.

And I will say what no one else has yet -- many of the taxi drivers are persons of color and allegations of racism will inevitably ensue from any enforcement efforts.

But I still say that the APD is more worried about kegs than cabs -- emphasis on "more."

Dr. Ed said...

To the PVTA driver, I say three things:

First, the only people who defend UMass Transit are those who work for it. Some years back, the schedule was published *backwards* (as in completely wrong) and no one noticed that for about 5 months.

I never could figure out the schedule and stopped trying - usually finding it simply easier to walk. I have used public transit in Boston, NYC, DC, & Chicago -- so don't tell me I am too drunk or stupid to figure out a schedule -- I can figure out everyone else's but yours!

Second, when my car was broken and it was too far to walk, I endured the adventure of Friday & Saturday night runs out of Hagus - not just overcrowded buses but overcrowded to the point of a serious safety hazard.

The buses are almost inevitably almost empty or packed way beyond capacity which raises issues about mismanagement.

Third, my understanding is that the buses on the Puffton route have police officers aboard during the high-party times. If you honestly saw kids climbing into car trunks, the officer sitting/standing next to you would have seen it too and why didn't he/she/it radio that in?

Or if there was no officer aboard, why didn't you report something that serious to your dispatcher on the radio-phone that I know you have? This is the policy of may private trucking companies - if a driver sees something *really* unsafe, it is reported to the dispatcher who reports it to the police. (In rural areas, this also includes DMVs.)

I know the "high & mighty" attitude that many Transit drivers acquire -- that we are the only people qualified to drive and no one else should. But as one with a CDL myself, I have not always been impressed with some of the operation I have seen. Way not impressed in some cases....

But above and beyond this, do you have any idea what could happen to a kid in the trunk of a car in an accident? Would you want that on your conscience? And hence, why the hell didn't you DO something about it when you saw it????

Furthermore, HOW do you know that the kid was getting in there truly voluntarily and this wasn't some fraternity hazing stunt? Well???

And why are people PAYING for taxis when the PVTA is already prepaid (do not say "free") -- why are they paying for the taxis?

Anonymous said...

Dr. Ed,

"whilst" is an archaic form of while. Please join us here in the 21st century.

Dr. Ed said...

"whilst" is an archaic form of while.

I knew/know that, and in all honesty didn't even notice it at the time.

But I didn't write it!

Look carefully -- it was written by a PVTA (Transit) driver who was criticizing me -- not by me.

Now as to centuries in which to live, I am increasingly preferring the 19th. As long as I can have a power inverter to run my laptop off my car and a cell phone for modem, I can live with a kerosene lantern and outhouse...

Anonymous said...

Larry I'm a UMASS student. I was wondering if you had any info on which taxi service is the safest? If you don't have it do you have a referral to who might have the info?

Larry Kelley said...

The Amherst Select Noard will discuss new rules and regulations for taxis on Monday night , so we will know more then.

Anonymous said...

Larry any chance you have any results from that board meeting? I'm a school senator and I'd like to give a report on taxis to my senate subcommittee tomorrow night. Our focus is on safety and I wanted to report on taxi safety in Amherst.

Larry Kelley said...

Looks like the new regs are still on schedule to go into effect January 1.

Until then, I would just advise students to pray before getting into a cab.

You may want to contact Chief Horvath and ask him to continue with the surprise safety checks that APD and UMPD did a couple weeks back (that turned up a number of problem taxis)

Select Board posted new regs to the town website in their packet (last item on the list over on right):