Riding a city cab will soon go easier on your ears.
The City Council approved an ordinance Friday barring taxicab drivers from using a cell phone while passengers are in the car. The change was included in a multi-faceted update of the city's cab rules.
Other changes allow drivers to exit their cars at taxi stands and wear jeans or sandals (but not flip-flops) while driving.
The cell phone change briefly drew some heat from the Minneapolis Taxicab Drivers and Owners Association, when the initial proposal barred phone use even when there were no passengers. The ordinance author, Elizabeth Glidden, clarified the language Friday to restrict use only when passengers are present.
Yemane Mebrahtu, president of the association, said Friday that cab drivers are happy Glidden clarified the language
“We’re concerned about the customers as well," Mebrahtu said. "It’s our business, we care about the people. And we make sure they are safe when they ride with the taxicab drivers.”
He added that they are not wild about the idea of the city imposing this mandate on drivers, but "we have to make some compromises in order to [negotiate] on the bigger picture [issues].”
Mehbratu also praised the changes allowing them to leave the cars at taxi stands (as long as they are within 5 feet), and wear jeans while driving. He said drivers have been ticketed for both actions in the past.
Cab drivers want City Hall to ease up on some other issues, too. They want to be able to drive into certain downtown hotspots to pick up passengers after clubs close; to park in more places; and ensure limousines aren’t getting an unfair advantage at hotels.