City approves changes to taxi ordinance


The Iowa City City Council voted 7-0 in favor of new taxi guidelines for both metered taxicab services and networked ridesharing companies.

The items aim to address safety issues with taxi service in Iowa City.

“These updates are not meant to accommodate network taxis, but to address already existing safety issues,” said Councilor Michelle Payne “People want companies like Uber here, but they [the companies] need to figure out how to operate within our lines.”

The first was a revision of numerous parts of taxicab ordinance including: creation of a regulatory scheme for businesses that operate exclusively through a web-based application to connect passengers and drivers and city issuance of identification cards for all taxi drivers.

Additionally, the guidelines calls for elimination of current exception that allows dispatching to be done from a non-office location from midnight until 6 a.m., requiring metered taxis to have a unique color scheme, and definition of a flat rate from a location in the city to a location outside of the city.

“At the end of the day, it’s Uber’s decision whether they want to do business in Iowa City under these regulations we have set out,” Markus said. 

The City Council also voted on first consideration to revise confusing language concerning shared rides in one of the taxi provisions.

Previously, the council could not agree on specific language that defined how a driver could charge additional passengers that got on after the original passenger.

The new ordinance allows passengers to get into the taxicab at different locations with consent and allows the driver or business to charge a fee for extra passengers.

Councilor Jim Throgmorton said the desirability of networked ridesharing companies needed to be addressed.

“We need to sit down and discuss the kind of impact that a ridesharing company will have on Iowa City and the possibility of discrimination that can happen when using these services,” he said.

Along with the revision for taxis, the council passed a resolution establishing an additional $15 fee for taxi driver photo-identification cards.

Councilors said the fee is necessary because the new ordinance requires all taxi drivers to have city-issued ID cards. The additional $15 fee will be on top of the current fees and charges already in place for business applications and vehicle details.

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