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Taking a Taxi Home: Should You Trust Who's Behind the Wheel?

Taxi drivers may soon be required to obtain a permit at the police department for a background check.
FRONT ROYAL, VA - Many call a taxi as a responsible way to get a safe ride home but to trust the person behind the wheel is something to be suspicious about.
Michelle Foster has been managing Yellow Cab of The Shenandoah for almost three years.
She says most of her applicants are men, ranging from ages 23 to 70.
However, she has had to turn some away after doing several background checks. It turns out many of the men has had extensive criminal histories, including felonies that are still pending.
"When we have an applicant apply, they are informed at that time they are going to do a 50-state background check, we have software in our computers to do that," says Foster.
As of now, Front Royal still does not require taxi drivers to obtain a permit from the police department but it is an ordinance the town is working on.
"Drivers would be to obtain a permit to operate a cab from the locality, and as proposed in our case, the chief of police could do a background check," says Steve Burke, Front Royal town manager.
Edwin Olsen, a tax driver at the Yellow Cab of The Shenandoah, says this regulation should have happened a long time ago.
"It leaves a bad taste in your mouth with any type of public service like that; it can't be allowed," says Olsen.
The ordinance was proposed by concerned citizens.
However, the town is looking to pass a revised version of the ordinance that says those who are  driving the cab falling under the sex offender registry, must make a note visible in the car for its passengers to see.
Foster, on the other hand, says that does not make a passenger any safer.
"When they call a taxi, whether it's from a home or a business, a hospital, they assume that they're safe. Usually hardened criminals serve their time and they get out, but not everyone is reformed," adds Foster.
There are two taxi companies in Front Royal who do not perform background checks and hire drivers with criminal history.
The Front Royal Town Council will be meeting again in the middle of August to discuss the ordinance further.

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