Taxi 7 gets Kentucky approval to start operating in Louisville
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Taxi 7, a taxicab company promising to bring about 100 vehicles to Louisville, has received state approval to start operations.
Rodney Kuhl, commissioner of Kentucky's Department of Vehicle Regulation, signed off on the application Jan. 29 over the objection of competitor Yellow Cab of Louisville, which claimed Taxi 7 didn't meet state standards requiring operators to be "fit, willing and able” to carry passengers.
Taxi 7 must submit various insurance forms and get approvals for its cars, but company president Michael Solomon said he is working on a deal for office space in the Portland neighborhood and has begun ordering vehicles. He said the first passenger service could start by June.
“We're going to spend millions of dollars before we turn the lights on in Louisville,” Solomon said.
The company, which has affiliates in North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and California, plans to put 90 hybrid vehicles and 10 wheelchair-accessible vans on Louisville-area roads. Drivers will be independent contractors with monthly contracts, Solomon said.
The entry of Taxi 7 into Louisville is the latest in a shifting landscape of for-hire vehicles that now includes “ride-sharing” services whose drivers use their personal cars. Uber and Lyft, whose system of ordering rides through smartphone apps arrived in the city last spring, are now regulated by Kentucky.
And after initially citing at least one Uber driver, Louisville International Airport is changing a policy that permits just two companies – Ready Cab and Yellow Cab – to pick up passengers. Skip Miller, executive director of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority, said in a statement that he expects the airport authority's board to consider a new set of rules at its March 17 meeting.
Taxi 7 plans to spend close to $5 million to get its Louisville operations started, including $5,000 in “technological upgrades” for each vehicle, according to documents filed with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
In an interview, Solomon said the company is “finalizing some offers on real estate” in Portland, but he didn't elaborate. He said the space would house a 4-person marketing and administration office.
Among those supporting Taxi 7's application was Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau President Karen Williams, who predicted more taxis will be needed in the years to come.
“The addition of 1,200 new hotel rooms and the renovation of the Kentucky International Convention Center will allow us the opportunity to bring many more visitors into our city,” Williams wrote. “In order to meet the transportation needs of these new visitors, it will be necessary to have additional taxis on the roadway.”
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