For-Hire/Livery Vehicles

The License Commission is in the process of revising the for-hire vehicle regulations, currently applicable to livery and limousine licensees in the City of Cambridge. In order to effectively protect consumers in the changing landscape of the for-hire transportation environment, the License Commission seeks to modernize and adapt its current regulations to reflect and address the realities of the industry, especially considering the innovation that has occurred as a result of the use of new technology being utilized in arranging for transportation services. In addition, the License Commission intends to evaluate the extent to which such rules and regulations should apply to for-hire transportation Smartphone applications that are not currently subject to regulation.

Emergency Regulations

As the License Commission conducts an extensive public input process during the drafting of final for-hire vehicle regulations, the Board of License Commissioners adopted the following emergency regulations by a 2-0 vote at its regularly scheduled meeting on August 13, 2013.  The purpose of adopting these two emergency regulations is to avoid any upset or serious harm to public peace or safety, as the current for-hire vehicle regulations are out-of-date, particularly in terms of addressing the new technology that is currently being utilized in the marketplace to dispatch for-hire vehicles.  The emergency regulations are effective immediately.


Emergency Regulations and Rationale

Solicitation of Passengers Prohibited.

No livery vehicle shall solicit passengers for transportation services on any public way nor shall a livery vehicle be parked on any public way for a time longer than is reasonably necessary to accept passengers as a result of a call for service. No passenger shall be accepted for any trip in such vehicle without previous engagement, at a fixed charge.

Rationale:  Currently, the License Commission has established a minimum fare and set time in order to determine what constitutes the “prearrangement” of a for-hire transportation vehicle.  As these standards are no longer reasonable, this regulation is crafted in the spirit of helping to distinguish between what constitutes prearrangement as opposed to a hail.  The question of how we define “prearrangement” shall be determined throughout the public input process.  Most importantly, the regulation is designed to help maintain public safety in order to allow agents of the License Commission and the Police Department the investigative authority to help prevent unlicensed, gypsy vehicles from picking-up passengers that have not prearranged service. 

Exterior of Livery Vehicles.

No livery vehicle shall bear designs, markings or exterior lights that make said vehicle resemble a taxicab.  No livery vehicle shall place exterior markings that contain the words “taxicab” or “cab” on the vehicle.

Rationale:  The License Commission has received inquiries over the past few months concerning unlicensed livery vehicles resembling taxicabs.  To avoid consumer confusion, the License Commission proposed the following regulation to help continue to distinguish between each of the respective industries.  Once again, to help maintain public safety, the License Commission has passed such regulation to help prevent unlicensed, gypsy vehicles that may resemble a taxicab from picking-up passengers in the City of Cambridge.

Notice of Public Information Forums

For-Hire Vehicle RegulationsSummary and Scope

The purpose of these informational forums is to elicit comment on the appropriate scope and application of regulations surrounding issues related to public safety and consumer protection.  Specifically, but without intending to limit suggestions for improvements to current regulations, the License Commission is interested in comments on specific areas of interest, as described below. The License Commission asks that all comments be limited to for-hire transportation vehicles, which include livery/black car vehicles and limousines.  Please note that these forums will be held in addition to public hearings required by the formal rule making process.

Areas of Interest

The License Commission invites comments from the public, the industry and additional stakeholders concerning the following issues and questions:

  • How should the License Commission define “prearrangement” for a for-hire transportation vehicle?  The goal of such shall be to distinguish between the services of the for-hire and taxicab industries.


  • Should a separate category of registration be created for Smartphone applications contracting with for-hire vehicles licensed by the City of Cambridge?  If so, what registration requirements should be required and what regulatory standards should a company be held to?


  • In most cases, Smartphone applications may be used as a medium to contract business from a Cambridge passenger; however, the for-hire vehicle used to fulfill the service request may not be licensed by the City of Cambridge.  How can the License Commission create a regulatory framework where a Smartphone application provider can be held accountable for the safety of the passenger?


  • What additional consumer protections should be built into for-hire vehicle regulations, including but not limited to, issues related to the following: price disclosure and price calculation; issuance of a receipt or record of the trip; and the establishment of any minimum fare, if necessary. 

Important Documents

Copy of Notice of Public Information Forums, including current For-Hire Vehicle Regulations (PDF)

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