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Transport company reform

Bob Torch, aka Taxi Bob, has been trying for nearly 10 years to start his own cab business. He is thrilled the Legislature approved a measure to make easier for people like him to get into the business.  (JOURNAL FILE PHOTO)
Bob Torch, aka Taxi Bob, has been trying for nearly 10 years to start his own cab business. He is thrilled the Legislature approved a measure to make easier for people like him to get into the business. (JOURNAL FILE PHOTO)
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Gov. Susana Martinez will sign into law bills to reform state regulation of New Mexico taxis, shuttles, limos and moving companies, according to Press Secretary Greg Blair.

Robert Torch, better known as Taxi Bob, said he hopes the new law will help future service providers avoid the hurdles he faced before launching his Giant Cab Co. in Albuquerque last year. It took the Public Regulation Commission eight years to approve his business, and he still only has a temporary permit.

“I hope the next person who does things right like I did will have an easier time,” he said. “I’m glad for them, given everything I had to bear.”

In the final hours of the legislative session, both the Senate and House unanimously approved two identical bills that would make it easier for new startup companies to get operating licenses.

The bills would end requirements that prospective businesses first show there’s a market need for a new taxi or moving service before the state Public Regulation Commission grants approval to operate. They would also deregulate rates to allow market competition to determine fares.

“Gov. Martinez supports removing the ‘public need’ requirement currently mandated on the industry and is hopeful that we will now see more taxis, shuttles, buses and other motor carriers operating in the state,” Blair told the Journal in an e-mail. “The governor plans to sign these bills as part of a larger package reforming operations of the (PRC).”

Think New Mexico drafted the original reform bill submitted in the House, and then negotiated changes to meld it with a separate bill in the Senate, allowing the merged proposals to gain broad support from legislators and industry representatives.

It’s the latest in a series of Think New Mexico-proposed reforms to the PRC. In this year’s session, the Legislature also approved enabling legislation for three previously approved reforms that increase qualifications for commissioners and that remove PRC responsibility for insurance regulation and for chartering and regulating corporations.

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