Sacramento City Council Approves Sweeping Regulations for Taxi Drivers

The Sacramento City Council has approved a new set of rules for taxi drivers, affecting everything from the clothes they wear to the languages they speak.

Under the new ordinance, approved unanimously Tuesday, taxi drivers must don “professionally appropriate clothing” and demonstrate a proficiency in English. They must also be familiar with Sacramento geography, show an ability to properly count change, and accept credit cards. In addition, taxi drivers will be prohibited from driving cars that are more than eight years old, while the number of downtown cabs will be capped at 450. 

The new rules are aimed at quelling aggressive fights between taxi drivers and distressing encounters with customers.

“This is currently an industry in Sacramento that’s in crisis,” said Council Member Steve Hansen. “I really do believe that a well-regulated profession will make everybody better.” 

Kazman Zaidi, who heads the Sacramento Taxi Cab Union, said the new regulations will place an undue burden on taxi drivers at a time when they are already facing steep competition from services like Uber and Lyft. Zaidi also took offense to a provision regarding taxi drivers’ dress and hygiene and said the English requirements, in particular, were discriminatory.

There are currently about 900 taxi drivers operating in the Sacramento region with average hourly wages running $13 an hour, or $26,000 per year.

Read more about the new regulations here.