Tragic Death Sheds Light On Taxi Cab Industry - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Tragic Death Sheds Light On Taxi Cab Industry

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The death of a 32-year old East Nashville woman has raised questions nearly eight months later.

The death of Livia Smith prompted the search for a driver after she was last seen getting into what looked like a taxi cab. The driver has yet to be found.

While the case may have cast a shadow on the industry, cab companies said it has shed light on a major problem that needs to be addressed. 

For as long as he's been in the business, Stephen Parker has learned a thing or two about the taxi cab industry. 

"I started in 1991," said Parker. "There was a time that the money was pretty good."

Since Nashville has become quite the destination, he believes business should be better. 

"I think there are a lot of taxi cabs in Nashville and ‘gypsy cabs,' they are definitely a problem because they take a pretty big slice of our pie," said Parker.  

The so-called "gypsy cabs" were those operating without a Metro Transportation license. 

"There's a lot of ‘gypsy' or what we call ‘renegade cabs,'" said Yellow Cab Manager Doug Trimble. "They're taking our drivers' business and they aren't held accountable by anyone." 

Authorities now believe it was possible Livia Smith may have gotten into one of these illegal cabs the night she died. 

"Livia's death was a tragedy from the start," said Billy Fields, the director of Metro's Licensing and Transportation Commission. "It was hurtful to the community and to her friends and to the industry."

Legitimate cab companies said the case has hurt, but feel they have a solution.  

"Our cab inspectors need to have the power back," said Trimble. "They need to be able to pull these drivers over and check if they're legal."

Managers from several of the licensed cab companies have been meeting once a month to discuss these matters, putting competition aside to work together for a common goal. 

There have been talks of a strike among drivers, where they would randomly pick a couple of hours to stop service, unless Metro steps up their enforcement.  

Metro Transportation and Licensing Commission said the best way to check the legitimacy of a cab company was to check the permit number decal on the vehicle.

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