JERSEY CITY - On Wednesday, the owners of 32 Jersey City cab companies met with members of the city's Dept. of Commerce to rail against recent changes to the Journal Square taxi stand.
In response to years of complaints from residents and commuters who are tired of long lines at the taxi stand, particularly at night, the City Council recently approved a plan to open the Journal Square taxi stand. Under the new changes, which are temporary, any Jersey City-licensed cab company can make pick ups at the Journal Square cab stand during the peak hours of 6 p.m. to midnight.
Before this change was made, only 36 cabs in the entire city were permitted to service the Journal Square taxi stand, even during peak hours when demand for cabs is highest.
The new rules took effect Dec. 14, but expire on Feb. 28, 2012.
On Wednesday, cab company owners told Commerce Director Paul Barna that the changes will hurt their ability to earn a living and insist that wait times at the taxi stand are not a problem. The owners were also angry that the city didn't consult with them before making the changes.
"We aren't here to point fingers or blame anybody. We want to come to an equitable solution that suits everybody," said R&J Taxi owner Rafael Moas, who called for the meeting with the city. Moaz said he first learned of the taxi stand changes from the Jersey City Reporter. "When things are done without the knowledge and input of [cab] drivers and owners, it affects the livelihoods of a lot of people. The council and the city should take us into consideration before any actions like this are taken."
Communication between the city and the taxi owners appeared to be a problem throughout the meeting. Several cab owners insisted they weren't aware that wait times were a problem at the Journal Square stand. But Barna insisted that he has discussed the problem with several taxi owners in the past.
At the meeting - which was also attended by two residents, Ward C City Councilwoman Nidia Lopez, and Councilwoman At-large Viola Richardson - the owners suggested several possible ways to improve wait times at the Journal Square taxi stand without opening up the stand to new cabs.
Lopez and Richardson agreed to try to get better signage for the taxi stand and railing for the curb to keep the line orderly. Lopez also said a survey of wait times at the taxi stand might also be needed.
The cab company owners are next scheduled to meet with the city on Thursday, Jan. 19. - E. Assata Wright