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Taxi stand to stay downtown for now

January 18, 2000|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

The taxi stand on Public Square in downtown Hagerstown will be left in place while City Council members await a recommendation from a citizen advisory board, according to City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman.

Council members on Tuesday agreed to have the City Board of Traffic and Parking, a volunteer citizen board, look into whether downtown needs a taxi stand and if so where it should be.

Zimmerman said the board may discuss the matter this week, but he was not sure when they might come up with a recommendation.

Two weeks ago, council members agreed to eliminate taxi stands downtown. Some council members said the taxis have at times obstructed traffic, notably large trucks trying to turn onto South Potomac Street from Washington Street. Some said the taxi stand was more of a hang-out spot than a place to pick up customers.

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At that time, Zimmerman said the taxi stands, the most visible of which is on South Potomac Street just off Public Square, could be gone within 30 days.

Last week, however, Councilman Alfred W. Boyer said he was concerned that eliminating the taxi stand could hurt some of the taxi companies. Boyer asked for the council to reevaluate its decision.

Boyer favored establishing a new taxi stand along the first block of East Washington Street, which would be further from Public Square but still close.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II suggested Tuesday having the taxis use the bus stop in the first block of West Washington Street.

Bruchey said the taxis and buses could share the space, with the taxis leaving whenever a bus came by.

Representatives from three Washington County taxi companies told the mayor and council Tuesday that eliminating the taxi stand would hurt the taxis that do not have radio dispatchers. Those taxis depend upon picking up customers at the square, they said.

George Turner, owner of Turner Taxi, said eliminating the taxi stand would also hurt the downtown.

The taxis bring a lot of people to and from downtown, and help keep the area safe by alerting police of possible problems, he said.

Councilman William M. Breichner said a previous suggestion that the city put a telephone on the square for people to call cabs would not work because some of the cabs are not radio dispatched.

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