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Nashua alderman sees trouble with cab inspections

Union Leader Correspondent

June 10. 2013 7:10PM

NASHUA — As the city works to ensure that taxicabs are inspected frequently, a new regulation has been drafted that would prohibit cab owners from conducting their own inspections.

Alderman Michael Tabacsko, Ward 5, is sponsoring a proposed ordinance that would prevent mid-year taxicab inspections from being performed by an inspection station that employs or is owned by the individual or business entity that owns the vehicle.

The existing ordinance states that mid-year inspections may be conducted by any New Hampshire registered inspection station.

According to City Clerk Paul Bergeron, there are two major cab companies in the city that own corresponding service stations that inspect their own taxis.

In response to the proposed ordinance that would prohibit this practice, Bergeron said it is a policy matter to be decided upon by aldermen.

“My office doesn’t have a position on it,” Bergeron said.

Tabacsko said the ordinance is not anti-taxi, but rather pro-safety.

“I trust that they are already in compliance, but this would help to ensure it. Moving forward, this would promote safety and a feeling of confidence for the riders,” he said.

Earlier this year, about half of Nashua’s taxis had not been inspected by the Nashua Police Department since 2011, even though city ordinance requires an annual inspection by the state, and a second midyear inspection six months later by a registered inspection station and the city’s police department.

The city clerk is to receive proof that the 21 cabs operated by seven different taxi companies in Nashua passed the midyear state inspection 10 days after the evaluation, according to city ordinance.

“All of the missed inspections that were over due have since been brought in,” Bergeron said on Monday. “We have put into place a new monitoring system to ensure that doesn’t happen again.”

Doreen Evans, co-owner of D&E Taxi in Nashua, said Monday she is pleased the city is pursuing this matter.

“I don’t believe you should be allowed to put your own stickers on your car, but there are companies out there in Nashua that are slapping on their own stickers,” said Evans. “This is for their own protection.”

Evans maintains it is a conflict of interest to have your own garage inspect the cabs and approve inspections.

“People are trying to fix the cars quickly and get them out on the road as soon as possible because the main concern is the cash flow,” she said. “I don’t want anyone out of business; I just want people to fix their cars. It is a safety concern.”

Tabacsko stressed that he is not implying any unethical practices are taking place with the city taxi inspections, but added his proposal would help to take away that appearance.

“I at least want to get it out there for discussion. I don’t believe there would be anything wrong with this new approach,” said Tabacsko.

While Evans is pleased with the proposal to have the mid-year inspection conducted by a third party, she wants the city to take it even a step further and mandate which inspection station should be used during every third inspection. This way, she said, the city can alternate different inspection stations for different cab companies, which would help eliminate any favoritism.

At this time, the proposed ordinance does not include this provision, but Evans said she and her husband plan to attend upcoming meetings on the issue to share their idea. Aldermen are being presented with the proposal tonight, and it will then be assigned to a committee for further analysis. khoughton@newstotecom

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