Inspection proposal divides Nashua taxicab owners
NASHUA — Taxicab owners spoke openly this week with city officials about a new regulation that would prohibit cab companies from conducting their own vehicle inspections.
“I think there should be some checks and balances,” said Michael Foster of Ash Street, who has been a cab driver in the city for several years. Foster spoke to the aldermanic Personnel and Administrative Affairs Committee earlier this week, saying the proposal seems like a smart concept.
Alderman Michael Tabacsko, Ward 5, is sponsoring a proposed ordinance that — if approved by the Board of Aldermen — would prevent midyear 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 midyear inspections may be conducted by any registered New Hampshire inspection station.
Foster said the proposal is worthwhile because it would protect the public and the cab drivers, but others disagreed.
“Our vehicles are inspected to the highest safety standards,” said Ronna Khoury, speaking on behalf of Samia Khoury, owner of SK Taxi Inc. in Nashua. “Our technicians are diligent and well qualified. We believe that this is a personal attack.”
According to City Clerk Paul Bergeron, there are two major cab companies in the city that own corresponding service stations that inspect their own personal taxis.
While Khoury understands the public may perceive this as a conflict of interest, she argued that SK Taxi is dedicated to public safety and goes out of its way to inspect its cabs thoroughly because the vehicles are their livelihood.
Dave Khoury, a licensed technician, stressed that no “funny business” is taking place with the inspection stickers, adding Eddie’s Auto, where the inspections take place, is very serious about granting stickers.
Ernie Evans, owner of D&E Taxi in Nashua, said he supports the proposed ordinance. Evans says he pays an independent garage to conduct his cab inspections each year, maintaining the use of an affiliated mechanic is a conflict of interest.
Evans said at least one inspection per year should be performed by an independent garage.
However, the Khoury family argued that nationwide, taxis are generally attached to their own repair facilities. It is not feasible for SK Taxi to take its vehicles elsewhere for inspections, as it could prove costly, they added.
Committee members were torn on the issue, but several aldermen agreed more information is needed to make an informed decision on the proposal. The group ultimately tabled the matter to collect more details.
“I think what is in place works,” said Alderman-at-Large David Deane, adding the businesses operating the cabs would not be making any profit if the vehicles were not running properly.
The ordinance, explained Tabacsko, would eliminate the appearance of any wrongdoing. Still, he stressed that he is not aware of any situations where cab owners are granting inspection stickers when they shouldn’t.
“The public safety issue is real,” said Tabacsko.firstname.lastname@example.org