(TNS) — Taxi drivers have a new locale in downtown San Rafael to pick up passengers after they were told in December to leave the Bettini Transit Center to make way for Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit trains.
Work will soon begin at the transit center so SMART trains can pass through the hub — operated by the Golden Gate Bridge district — en route to Larkspur by 2019. Construction will include new tracks, barriers and crossing arms. The rail line will go through Platform C. Five taxi companies used a designated area in the transit center where riders could get service.
Now the city of San Rafael has established a new taxi area along Tamalpais Avenue between Third and Fourth streets in front of Citibank.
“We think this is the best area for the cab stand at the moment,” Bill Guerin, director of public works, told the City Council Monday night. “This one works best in terms of adjacency to the transit center, adjacency to the SMART train.”
The council voted 4-0, with Councilwoman Kate Colin absent, to make the site the new taxi stand for the time being. Tamalpais Avenue is a one-way street that has five consecutive metered parking spaces. To accommodate a six-space taxicab stand, the city will remove the five metered parking spaces and convert 22 feet of red curb to a white curb, according to a staff report.
“The removal of the five metered parking spaces will impact the overall parking availability immediately adjacent to the transit center but staff believes that access to taxicabs near the transit center is important and access to taxicabs will have a positive impact on parking use in the area,” a city report reads.
The city plans to add signs, paint and remove the meters at a cost of $3,100 to designate the area for taxis. The removal of the parking meters will result in the loss of $3,000 a year in parking meter revenue.
The site does come with some limitations. It’s smaller than the transit center site and there is no area for the cabs to cue.
Taxi companies have started to use it already and not all like the site, some saying potential customers toting suitcases are hesitant to cross busy Third Street.
“We do appreciate the stand, but we are just standing there and it’s difficult for customer access,” said Lucinda Daniels, operations manager for San Rafael-based North Bay Taxi. “We need the visibility.”
While Golden Gate Bridge officials had licensed five cab companies to operate out of the transit center, the city may winnow that number to limit congestion in and around the transit center. The city will look at a permit system or other licensing agreement to limit the number of taxi companies.
Selection could hinge on the number of taxicabs operated by the company, fleet age and quality, company and driver qualifications and ability to pay permitting fees, among other criteria. City staff will develop selection criteria and bring it to the City Council.
©2018 The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.