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Cab drivers face policy changes

The taxicab committee, which included cab companies, deliberated the new policies for 18 months. Paul Astleford President and CEO of Experience Columbus is a member of the committee He says the new standards are intended to increase cab use and improve the cab experience. "A great deal of this dealt with providing a unique experience for Columbus visitors," he said. "One that would be recognized spontaneously by a visitor as the light bulb going on saying 'Oh Columbus really has it together. They thought about this and it shows that they care about us being here.'"

He says safety was one of the main concerns facing the committee. The committee recommends raising the number of training hours from 2 to 4, and also raising the minimum driver age from 18 to 23. Currently, cab drivers must have a US license for 6 months, but according to the new regulation, that could increase to 5 years.

"Its more important to requre enough skill and experience to look out for public interests," he said.

Ashebar Belayneh has been a cab driver for 5 years. He also represents cab owners for the Independent Taxicab Association which is a membership of 325 independent Columbus cabs.

He says many people moving into the country take jobs as taxi drivers while they transition into American life. Most have previous driving experience and he says a 5 year wait is too long.

"It looks like a little bit long. We don't want people to come to America and be unempolyed. We are encouraging people to get out of the welfare system. We want people to work. We are encouraging people to work. Since we are encouraging people to work let them work as soon as they get into America," he said.

Columbus Green Cabs is the biggest cab company in the city with about 140 taxis. The company already requires their drivers to have their license for five years.

Donald Matthews is a manager for Columbus Green Cabs. He says since the company enforces stricter rules their saftey record has improved.

"We're a little stricter than what the city guidlines are. We've found out that paid off because of your insurance rates and everything," he said.

Since they already enforce the five year rule Matthews says it will neither help nor hurt their business if enacted.

"It won't affect our business cause you only have so many cabs you can only do so much business," he said.

The changes will be voted on by city council.