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Hailing a Taxi in Los Angeles is a Reality

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A taxi on Cahunega Blvd. in Hollywood on Day 1 of the new Hail-A-Taxi program | Photo by Tom Andrews/LAist

Los Angeles has caught up with what most other American big cities have been doing for years--you can stand on the sidewalk and hail a cab legally and the cabbie won't get ticketed. Well, there are a couple stipulations, at least for the moment. It's only in certain areas of Downtown and Hollywood and the program, which began yesterday, is a six-month pilot, which means come 2009, it could stay as is, go away or expand citywide or to more special areas.

Walking Hollywood Blvd. last night, one taxi driver had no idea. "What new taxi program?" he asked. Another driver was weary on how much the program will actually help. But in general, reports around town seem to picture taxi drivers and taxi users in a positive light.

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Here's what's new, even though most people thought this would have been in place for decades already. Taxis in the special areas can now pick up in red zones, but not in bus zones, they can stop in blue handicap zones for disabled passengers and they can legally double park to immediately load or unload passengers as long as there is still another lane for passing cars. In all cases, emergency flashers must be used.