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Fairfax County’s lone remaining taxi operator requests easing of rules that ‘age out’ vehicles

Old Dominion Transportation Group is the only taxicab operator in Fairfax County (staff photo by David Taube)

With the rise of ride-hailing services, Fairfax County has seen its taxicab fleet whittled down to just one operator.

That operator, Old Dominion Transportation Group (ODTG), hopes to extend the life of its 130-vehicle fleet by asking the county to revise an existing requirement that phases out taxis once they reach 10 years of age or more than 500,000 miles traveled.

The company has requested that the model-year age be raised to 12 or 15 years and that the mileage limit be eliminated.

“ODTG cites the continued struggle with the effects of the pandemic as well as competition from the transportation network companies (TNCs),” county staff said in a report for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. “ODTG also references the different requirements of other surrounding jurisdictions. ODTG believes that it can continue to provide safe, comfortable transportation for their passengers if this request is approved.”

According to county staff, ODTG raised the request on Oct. 11, 2022 after its sole competitor — Alexandria-based White Top Cab — shut down its Fairfax County operations on Sept. 1, returning its 20 taxicab certificates.

ODTG reported that 25 of its vehicles were scheduled to “age out” on Dec. 31, 2022. While it has enough active vehicles to at least temporarily offset the losses, the company says replacing vehicles has become challenging, as the new and used car markets grapple with supply chain issues and fluctuating prices.

Fairfax County and D.C. are the only jurisdictions in the region to impose mileage requirements on their taxi fleets, according to staff.

A comparison of taxi vehicle requirements in D.C. area localities (via Fairfax County)

Following a model already used in Alexandria City and Arlington County, county staff have proposed splitting the requirement into separate tiers for gas-powered and electric or hybrid vehicles:

The 10-year model-age requirement [should] be increased to 12 years for gasoline-only powered non-wheelchair accessible vehicles and 15 years for hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric, and wheelchair accessible vehicles. This proposal provides an incentive for the operators to replace their fleet with non-gasoline powered vehicles. Staff also recommends that the mileage requirement for all vehicles be eliminated.

The report notes that taxis are required to under go state inspections annually during their first six years of operation. Once they hit seven years of age, they’re also inspected every six months by the county’s taxicab inspector.

“Staff believes these inspections are sufficient in lieu of maintaining a mileage requirement,” staff said.

The staff’s recommended code amendment “balances the challenges of the taxicab operators, considers the practice of local jurisdictions, ensures the safety of the riding public, and helps the environment,” the report says.

The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the proposal around 3:30 p.m. today (Tuesday).

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