Business owners hope taxi stands breathe new life into Broadway

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Business owners on Broadway are hoping taxi stands will bring new customers and breathe new life into the troubled corridor near North Beach.

Because there are few places to park on the street and traffic congestion makes it difficult for cabs to drop off passengers, hotels and conference centers rarely send tourists and visitors over to Broadway businesses, said Francesca Valdez, who owns Broadway Studios, a space specializing in hosting corporate events.

She said something as simple as cab stands — on street-parking spots where taxis can idle without fear of being ticketed — could dramatically change the atmosphere of the corridor, which stretches from Columbus Avenue to The Embarcadero.

“We have at least 20 entertainment centers on Broadway, but getting new customers here has been very difficult,” Valdez said. “We have a lot to offer, but few people know about us.”

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which regulates cabs in The City, has been working with community representatives to determine potential spots for the new taxi stands. So far, no specific locations have been identified, and the agency has yet to commit to installing the stands, spokesman Paul Rose said.

Glendon Hyde, a director on the Entertainment Commission, has been working with Valdez and other business owners — who formed a group called Voice of Broadway — on addressing some of the accessibility issues plaguing the area.

Hyde said adding new taxi stands and extending tow-away hours until 10 p.m. on weekends, as was recently done, will introduce a new clientele to Broadway, one that can enjoy the variety of restaurants and eateries on the corridor.

The Broadway corridor has long been troubled by violence, often involving late-night partygoers who spill out on to the sidewalks from the street’s numerous clubs. Valdez said available taxis could do a lot to ease the tension in the neighborhood.

“It’s a busy thoroughfare where people can’t load and unload into cars, so they stick around on the sidewalk, and that’s where the trouble starts,” said Valdez. “Having taxis around will alleviate those crowds.”

Mark Gruberg, spokesman for the United Taxicab Workers, a drivers group, said the taxi stands would be a good idea on Broadway — provided they’re in the right place. If the zones are right next to areas of heavy foot traffic, drivers would be much more likely to pick up and drop off fares there.

Valdez said ideal locations for the stands would be outside Impala, a lounge at 501 Broadway, and near Tomasso’s restaurant, which is just off Broadway on Kearny Street.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

Riding around town

53 Existing taxi stands in The City
1,500 Medallions, or permits to drive a cab, in circulation
$3.50 Flag drop, or initial charge, when entering a taxi
$0.55 Charge every one-fifth of a mile

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