Falls Cabs Undergo Multiple Safety Inspections

Wichita Falls City Council and city staff are considering revisions to the decades-old cab ordinance. But, officials say, vehicle safety is already up to par.

City Council approved a new taxicab franchise for Wichita Star taxi Tuesday. Councilors raised concerns over business practices of the old All American Cab Co. Wichita Star is using the same vehicles and drivers. It is now owned by Claudio Ramirez Jr., the son of the former owner.

But, vehicle safety was also raised at Tuesday's meeting. Turns out, several of Wichita Star's vehicles have accidents on history reports. That, however, isn't against city code.

"The city ordinance does not prevent a taxicab franchise from using a vehicle that has been totaled or in a major wreck," said Wichita Falls Director of Aviation, Traffic and Transportation John Burrus. But, he said, vehicles undergo a number of rigorous inspections and he trusts those inspections.

Cabs must meet all state vehicle inspection standards as well as comply with appearance standards. They are all inspected by both city staff and independent mechanics. And, vehicles are subject to random inspections by the city.

All of Skylark Taxi's vehicles are current with inspections. Wichita Star's cabs are all current on state inspections. Ramirez must have them all re inspected by the city before they can go back into service.

The city also inspects taxicab meters to ensure riders and cab companies are both treated fairly. Cab drivers must always run the meter when you ride. According to Kirk Darnell with Skylark, the only flat-rate route approved by the City of Wichita Falls runs from Sheppard Air Force Base to the Sikes Senter Mall.