taxi.jpgThe San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors on Tuesday approved temporary permits that will allow up to 200 more taxis to operate on the city’s streets.

The three-year permits will be leased directly to taxi companies, increasing the total number of cabs from the 1,535 that are currently authorized to operate full-time, according to SFMTA officials.

“One of the most common complaints we hear as a board is that it can be difficult to find a taxi,” board chairman Tom Nolan said in a statement. “This plan is not the final step, but a significant one, that will help improve service for those who live, work and visit San Francisco.”

Last month, the SFMTA board also approved a new process for buying and selling taxi medallions. Drivers can now sell medallions to other drivers. The medallions were previously nontransferable but now can be bought for $300,000. Thirty-three percent of that purchase price goes back to the agency.

The temporary permits approved Tuesday will cost $1,900 per month and can only apply to hybrid, electric, compressed natural gas or other alternative fuel vehicles, according to SFMTA officials.

Agency officials said that adding more permitted taxis to the city’s streets will curb the use of unregulated cab services such as Uber, Sidecar and Lyft.

“This proposal is a win-win for our customers and for the taxi industry,” SFMTA director of transportation Ed Reiskin said.

“The additional taxis will enhance service for our customers, provide more shifts for taxi drivers, and will economically support our taxi companies by enabling them to better serve the public.”

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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