Older taxi cabs now allowed at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport

Taxi cabs up to 10 years old are now allowed to serve passengers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. (Screencapture)

A new city ordinance allows taxi cabs picking up passengers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to be up to 10 years old.

The ordinance, passed by the Atlanta City Council at its June 3 meeting, replaces a seven-year age limit on taxi cabs serving the world’s busiest airport.

Cabbies have argued for the taxi age limit to be changed because it is too expensive to buy a new car every seven years. They said extending the use of a vehicle to 10 years would give them time to finance a new car while continuing to work as taxi drivers and support their families.

“We can buy a five-year-old car and at least make sure we have it for five years,” said Tony Igbere about changing the age limit of taxis. “Our cars are made stronger these days, but they cost a lot.”

“We promise we’ll continue to work to improve our industry, to do whatever it takes to make our visitors feel comfortable, especially at the airport, which is the only vestige of the taxi industry left,” Igbere said.

Councilmember Alex Wan was the only “no” vote and said the timing was problematic for him as the city prepares for the 2026 World Cup.

“We are starting to talk about 2026 and the World Cup and all the investments we’re making in the city, yet at the airport — where for most people it’s going to be their first entry into this city — we are now relaxing what could be one of their first experiences in the city.

“It’s a bell that you can’t unring once it’s been rung,” Wan said.

An earlier version of the ordinance proposed to deregulate the taxi industry in several ways, such as repealing some requirements for taximeters and the color of cabs. Cabbies vocally opposed those proposals, but organized to lobby the council to permanently allow older taxi cabs.

Councilmember Byron Amos, sponsor of the legislation, said it took many months and conversations with taxi drivers, taxi companies, city and airport officials to reach an agreement.

“Originally you could only have a car for seven years in service and anyone who has ever bought a brand new car, you know, that’s the average loan on your car. So you’re really working to pay off a car,” Amos said in a statement after the meeting.

“Now that we have increased that to 10 years, at least you have some additional years that you can work and that money, instead of going to a car, is now going to take of your family, feed your family, put them through school,” he said.

The age limit for taxis was 10 years until 2017. That year, the council mandated taxis be no more than seven years old while implementing regulations for Uber and Lyft pickups at Hartsfield-Jackson airport.

In 2020, the council passed a temporary waiver to allow taxis up to 10 years old pick up passengers at the airport due to struggles drivers were having during the COVID-19 pandemic. The waiver was extended in 2022 to expire in 2024.

Last year, the council voted to increase fares for taxi cabs.

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