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City Council investigates unlicensed taxi services

Last Modified: Monday, January 13, 2014 2:11 PM

By Justin B. Phillips / American Press

During Tuesday’s agenda meeting, City Councilman Rodney Geyen discussed taxi services operating in the city without proper licensing. With a higher frequency of taxi traffic at casinos, bars and nightclubs, Lake Charles residents should pay close attention to the vehicles offering to take them home.

Geyen said he was told by some of his constituents there were vehicles in the city posing as licensed taxi services. The taxis, he said, look similar to legitimate, licensed taxi services in the city.

“There are others that seem to be operating illegally. It was also brought to my attention that in some cases, people are taking their vehicles and sticking a sign on each side indicating it’s a cab company,” Geyen said. “They are actually making money without having to pay the taxes others are paying.”

Properly licensed taxi services in the city include Big Red’s Taxi, Dependable Taxi, Lake City Taxi, Ronald’s Taxi & Shuttle Service, Superior Taxi, and Yellow Cab of Lake Charles.

City Attorney Billy Loftin worked with Geyen on the inquiry into the unlicensed taxi services. He said ordinances are in place to deal with the unlicensed services. The problem, Loftin said, is determining the names of the illegal taxi services and finding out background information about them.

“We do have some legitimate taxi businesses that are licensed to operate in the city of Lake Charles. We need to know immediately the names of any taxi services that anyone sees that are operating inappropriately, description of the vehicle, the license plate number and where you’ve seen it,” Loftin said.

“Then we can get with the Police Department and try to enforce the ordinances that we have. The first order of business is to find out who is operating improperly, and then let’s go after them.”

Geyen said he was told by residents that many of the unlicensed taxi services pick up passengers at L’Auberge.

Loftin said it is not illegal for taxi and shuttle services from Texas to drive in and drop off passengers at the casino. That is a regular occurrence, but once the passenger has exited the vehicle, the taxi service can’t pick up new passengers in Lake Charles.

All taxis must have a meter visible in front of the passenger. If a taxi has no visible meter — even if the cab company is licensed — it is not a legal taxi.

Loftin said he plans to use the information from Geyen about the vehicles gathering at L’Auberge to find out more about the unlicensed taxi services. Some of them distribute cards with their information.

Some of the taxi services seen around the city operating without a license include Fast Taxi, Louisiana Finest Taxi, Capital G Taxi, Honest Taxi and rental cars.

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