'Instant Cab Culture' Unlikely in L.A.

The city of Los Angeles has instituted an experimental program encouraging people to hail taxi cabs rather than call ahead, an effort the city hopes will create a "cab culture". This column is skeptical about how much impact the plan can have.
January 5, 2009, 5am PST | Nate Berg
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"The city wants to rehab our habits. Nearly six months ago, L.A. inaugurated a 'Hail a Taxi' experiment downtown and in Hollywood. It eased some restrictions on cab drivers, put up 600 "Hail a Taxi" signs and delivered some big hopeful talk of turning car culture into cab culture in parts of town with resurgent urban comings and goings, night life and restaurants and residents. Riding in cabs could cut down on traffic jams and carbon outlay, save people time and parking money and still spare us that most L.A. of indignities: having to walk."

"Could it really work, hailing a taxi in L.A.? The program fizzled in its July debut, so the city relaunched it in December. The numbers aren't in yet, but Amir Sedadi, who's the assistant general manager at the Department of Transportation, says that it's 'going a little slower than we anticipated.' You can't just pop open a can of Instant Cab Culture. It'll depend 'on both supply and demand,' on enough passengers looking for cruising cabs, and a critical mass of cabbies available for the flagging."

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Published on Thursday, January 1, 2009 in Los Angeles Times
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