Hearing set for new taxicab regulations

The cities of Biloxi, Gulfport and D’Iberville, after hearing months of complaints and comments from taxicab drivers about regulation and regulatory fees, are a step closer to moving forward with a revamped Motor Vehicle for Hire Authority.

The City of Biloxi will conduct a public hearing Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 10:30 a.m. at Biloxi City Hall to hear comments on the proposed rules and regulations. Speakers will be limited to three minutes during the hour-long hearing, but written comments are encouraged and welcomed to be submitted.

Under the new plan that will be considered by the three cities, fees would be reduced sharply and the regulatory process would be streamlined.

Currently, the Motor Vehicle for Hire Commission regulates 152 drivers. That figure includes 139 taxicabs, four limousines and two shuttles. As many as two dozen limousines are not regulated by the commission because they have U.S. Department of Transportation certification, and an unknown number of non-emergency transport vehicles are exempt because they are said to have Medicaid contracts.

Among the largest expenses of the regulatory agency’s $75,000 to $80,000 annual budget: performing background checks on new drivers, regularly inspecting vehicles and enforcing regulations and policies governing drivers.

The hearing next week takes place after months of objections from cab drivers, who have resisted a countywide Motor Vehicle for Hire Authority, citing increased fees and stringent regulations.

Among the revisions in the new plan:

  • Transportation network companies, such as Uber or Lyft would be allowed to operate, provided they furnish vehicle and driver documentation and post a bond. Taxicab companies also would be provided a similar opportunity.
  • Disputes will be resolved by administrative hearings and hearing officers making a record with a court reporter. The record would be forwarded to the respective city council for final decision, based on the written record.
  • Cities would subsidize the expenses based on their pro-rata portion of their business/usage, meaning Biloxi would probably pay about 65 percent of the subsidy.

Read the proposed regulations