Town Board approves taxi regulations

The Town Board unanimously adopted new rules regulating taxis and other for-hire vehicles Tuesday, after only one person spoke at a public hearing on the proposal two weeks ago.

The new regulations require taxis operating in the town to be licensed by the town and require taxi drivers working in the town to undergo physicals and drug tests. It would also charge a fee for taxi licenses and operating permits, although the board has yet to set those amount.

Riverhead was one of the few Long Island towns that had no regulations in place regarding taxis, officials said. The main goal in the new law was safety, they said.

The town had been working on the taxi legislation for about five years, but never got it to the point the board they would adopt it. Councilman John Dunleavy sponsored the legislation.

“If you’re working for a good cab company, you’re not going to have a problem meeting this,” Supervisor Sean Walter said at the hearing.

The new law doesn’t regulate cab fares, he noted.

The law states that “history has shown that there is a need for investigation and review of the conduct of taxicab drivers and vehicles for hire in order to ensure the health, safety and welfare of residents and visitors within the town.”

In neighboring Southampton Town, there were at least two incidents in the Flanders/Riverside areas last year where police arrested cab drivers for driving while under the influence of drugs. One of these incidents involved a three-car crash.

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