Board Approves Ballston BID, Says No to More Taxis

by ARLnow.com December 13, 2010 at 3:58 pm 3,993 19 Comments

Ballston will be getting a business improvement district, but Arlington will not be getting additional taxis. Those two decisions were reached unanimously by the county board at its Saturday meeting.

The board approved a supplemental commercial property tax in Ballston to pay for the formation of a Ballston Business Improvement District. It did so with the encouragement of many large property owners — like JBG, Shooshan Company and Ballston Common Mall owner Forest City — but over the objections of a few, like the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the Nature Conservancy.

“A Business Improvement District for Ballston is the best vehicle for building on Ballston’s already considerable assets and positioning it for the future,” Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette said in a statement. “With the success of our BIDs in Crystal City and Rosslyn, we know that this new BID will contribute greatly to the future success of Ballston.”

The Sun Gazette, TBD and Arlington County have more information on the BID’s passage.

In other action Saturday, the board rejected a request from two “green” taxi companies to expand their fleets.

County staff took a hard line on the issue, recommending that the board reject the request to add 75 taxis to Arlington’s current licensed fleet of 765 cabs. Cab drivers spoke passionately at the board meeting about their difficulty making ends in Arlington, arguing that allowing new cabs would impose an additional hardship.

EnviroCab, which currently operates 50 taxis in the county, and a would-be start-up called GoGreen Cab had hoped to win board approval for new environmentally-friendly taxis. In the end, county staff pointed out that Arlington has a taxi density that rivals New York City and Chicago when the county’s size and population is figured in.

The Washington Post, Sun Gazette and TBD all have more on the taxi decision.

Flickr pool photo (top) by Tim Kelley

  • JimPB

    Why not open and unfettered competition, with regulation and monitoring to assure that the vehicles are maintained for safety and driver’s are licensed, sober and drug-free, lawful and polite?

    • yoder

      Agreed. There should be no limit to the number of taxis other than what the market puts forth. Apparently, the market can’t take much more according to existing companies, and yet new companies want to try. The more competition, the better the rates and service will be. The Board is involved in all kinds of stuff that it doesn’t understand and should be completely beyond it’s scope anyway.

      • Clarendude

        It’s very common for jurisdictions to regulate entry and other aspects of the taxicab industry. I’ve been told it is due to decades of experience and the nature of the industry. Anyway, you could probably make the other argument, but that’s what I have heard. And, it appears there are a lot of studies like this one that look at that and similar questions


      • V Dizzle

        If you are going to regulate the rates (just like your natural gas rates), you have to protect that industry, which isn’t able to set it’s own pricing. If you add 10% to the saturation of taxis, you are making it tougher to turn a profit for all, while limiting what they can recoup.

        • yoder

          The prices should not be regulated either. They would come down as long as you allowed full participation.

  • Dude Where’s My Car

    “Read my lips: NO NEW TAXIS!” – Geo. H. W. Bush

  • Bluemont John

    I’m all for keeping the number of taxis low. They’re among the very worst drivers out there. They think nothing of parking in a lane of traffic to pick up a fare. The other day, I saw one parked in handicapped spot. And blocking the crosswalk for them is routine.

    We need a few–but I think the more we have, the more chaotic and dangerous our roads will be.

    We should also get rid of minivans, SUVs, VWs, and Audis–all driven by people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing or don’t care.

    • LP

      I love generalizations. Really makes the world a better place (sarcasm).

      • Bluemont John

        OK, so I was kind of exaggerating about the VWs, etc.–and I can’t believe I forgot to mention Priuses–but I do see general patterns among the aforementioned drivers: Much of the time (but not always), Jettas are driven too fast, by women; SUV drivers go way too fast on neighborhood streets and don’t signal when changing lanes; minivan drivers never signal for anything and meander over the dividing line like a drunken sailor; Priuses (no smog but plenty of smug) ride the brakes and horn in when you leave a safe space.

        But back to cabs: They’re the worst. I sympathize with the drivers, who are mostly hard-working legal immigrants. But that doesn’t mean the driving habits of their home countries are to be allowed here. I think they need more training. Then I might be open to more cabs.

    • Mike


  • MC

    Ironic decision, given that this morning when the Metro melted down there were no taxis to be found – Red Top basically took the phone off the hook.

    Comparisons to New York and Chicago are wishful thinking. One can rarely hail a passing cab during the day, and finding one at a rank is at best uncertain. Most cabs seem to appear only during the wee hours of weekends. The numbers of generally available taxis is way overstated.

    • BrownFlipFlops

      That’s exactly right. They weren’t even answering the phone.

  • TB

    “decisions were reached unanimously by the county board”

    Well that’s a surprise . . .

    • el fat kid

      hah. good pt.

  • Meghan

    No new taxis- really? The worst drivers out there? How about we keep drunk drivers off the road by having readily available taxis.

  • Suburban Not Urban

    So – how many BID’s do we need in Arlington in the tiny county of Arlington? 3, 6, 12. All competing against each other for retail dollars. This board has never met a commercial development it doesn’t like – and they go to any length to gather more dollars to spend to generate more development. The folks in this county need to take a hard look at whether they eventually want one big infill multi-use development to occupy the whole county.

    • mehoo

      Actually, they’ve done a great job of focusing growth in the urban corridor to PREVENT commercial infill from infiltrating the whole county. Smart growth, dude.

  • NorthAdams

    isn’t a taxi part of a car-free diet???

  • Pingback: No more taxis for Arlington; Bristow man wins $1M lottery; Fairfax County may add more representatives on Board; and VA judge finds requiring citizens to get health insurance is unconstitutional | Northern Virginia Magazine()


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