Change would let cab companies set own fares

The Minot City Council moved toward getting out of the business of setting taxi fares at its meeting Monday.

An existing ordinance authorizes the city to set fares. The council has not updated fares for several years, but with a new cab company in town after a period of taxi drought, the city received a request to update the fares to reflect current market conditions.

“The council should not be in the business of telling businesses what they can charge and not charge. I believe the free market is fully capable of doing that,” council member Carrie Evans said. “It’s a power the (state) Century Code gives us, but I don’t believe we should always be using those powers. There is no other business in the city that we regulate like this.”

The ordinance does not apply to ride-sharing companies, which are licensed through the state.

Evans proposed removing portions of the ordinance that give the council authority to set fares. She proposed, instead, adding language to the ordinance requiring taxi companies to send copies of their fares and other charges to the city clerk annually. Another provision she recommended based on the Bismarck city ordinance is a prohibition against any additional fees or charges for passengers who are disabled.

“Our city, unfortunately, went for several years without a taxi company,” council member Scott Burlingame said. “At this point, I just want a taxi cab company in this town. If we can get out of the way and make that easier, let’s do it.”

The council voted unanimously to pass on first reading the ordinance changes proposed by Evans as well as amendments giving the police chief or designee the authority to conduct and enforce the city’s taxicab licensing process, with an appeal process to the city council.


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