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April 28. 2014 7:48PM

Three of Portsmouth’s cab companies fail inspections

PORTSMOUTH — Three of the city’s taxicab companies were knocked out of business, at least temporarily, after state and city police pulled cabs off the road when they failed inspection.

Police inspected the cabs of seven companies with taxi medallions signifying licenses to pick-up and discharge passengers within the city limits. For two of the companies, which police would not name Monday, the entire fleet failed inspection. For a third, all of its cabs failed except for a taxi that wasn’t brought in for inspection and that cab’s taxi license was suspended.

A Portsmouth city ordinance regulates the cab industry, and requires the police chief to designate a city Taxi Inspector, who has authority over inspections and other operating rules that cabs must follow.

Under the ordinance, a company that fails to comply with safety requirements can be given 24 hours to repair the defect and provide police with proof that the correction has been made. The rules provide for tougher sanctions if the inspector deems them necessary. Cabs can have the medallion removed on the spot, the cab license can be suspended pending a hearing by the city Taxi Commission, or the inspector can recommend that the medallion be suspended.

Some of the equipment issues found in the inspections were apparently severe.

A police officer familiar with the inspections said that in some cases, the vehicles were determined to be in such poor condition that state police seized the vehicle’s license tags and registration on the spot, which meant the vehicles could not be driven. Others had the medallions pulled until the cars and vans could be fixed and reinspected.

Only two cab companies managed get all of its cabs inspected and approved, and one of the two had only a single car on the road.

bsmith@unionleader.com


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