Wheatley reports on community forum on jitney and taxi service
August 9, 2005
State Rep. Jake Wheatley Jr., D-Pittsburgh, recently hosted a community forum at the Hill House on taxicab service.
“I want people in underserved neighborhoods to know how to make official complaints when they call for taxicabs and the cabs fail to show up,” Wheatley said.
Wheatley held the forum to alert the community that there is a process in place to file complaints against companies that do not provide appropriate taxi service and to inform residents how taxi services are regulated. There was also an opportunity for the community to hear about the results of a recent survey conducted by the Pittsburgh Transportation Equity Project (PTEP) and Wheatley's office.
The panel included staff from PTEP, the Public Utility Commission, and the relatively new owners of Yellow Cab. Each panel member provided a brief overview of their services.
The PUC regulates taxi and limousine services. Although there are several taxi companies servicing the downtown and surrounding Pittsburgh communities, Yellow Cab has the majority of the market. Both Yellow Cab and the PUC reported a very low number of complaints regarding service but recognized that there have been historic problems regarding cab service within some communities.
The consensus reached by those involved in the forum was that many low-income and African American residents have given up on regulated cab service and have turned instead to other means of transportation, including unregulated “jitneys.” This matches the results of the “Jitney Driver/Rider Survey” which was undertaken by Wheatley's office and PTEP.
Staff from PTEP reported that the survey results showed the majority of residents in low-income areas and large sections of the 19th Legislative District, which Wheatley represents, rely on jitney service because they feel regulated cab service is unreliable. Jitneys' reliability is important to them because it allows them to get to their health and medical appointments on time, visit family, and have access to service, especially when returning home from grocery shopping.
Several people at the meeting, including some jitney drivers, gave accounts of using jitneys, crediting their drivers with being readily available and providing services that can personally accommodate the needs of their customers. For example, jitney drivers have waited with an elderly rider at a health facility or picked up a prescription from a local drugstore.
It was agreed upon that there was a need to find ways to meet the needs of all parties involved. Finally, the group came to an understanding that more community meetings on this issue may be necessary to come to a solution that would be agreeable for all parties involved. Wheatley stated his interest is to improve people's quality of life in the 19th Legislative District and engage all parties to work toward finding solutions that support economic development and bring resources to the community.
Wheatley invited constituents who are concerned with this matter to contact his office at 412-471-7760 or to stop by at 2015-2017 Centre Ave.
Additionally, those who attempt to call a cab and do not receive adequate service can file a complaint online at http://www.puc.state.pa.us. Staff from Wheatley's office is available to provide additional information or to assist with helping to file a complaint.
The 19th Legislative District includes part or all of these neighborhoods: the Hill District, North Side, South Side, Allentown, Knoxville, Hazelwood, Downtown, the Strip District, the Bluff, Beltzhoover, Manchester, Arlington, Arlington Heights and West, South and North Oakland.