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Cabs operating in Amherst will have electronic meters starting Jan. 1

— Beginning Jan. 1, the 10 cab companies licensed to operate in Amherst will be required to tabulate fares for customers using electronic meters.

The mandate for these meters, which the Select Board approved this fall, eliminates the zoned-map systems used to charge predetermined fares that have been popular for most companies.

Select Board Chairwoman Stephanie O’Keeffe said the idea of mandating meters is to professionalize the service being offered to residents, including many students who are picked up late at night.

“It becomes a very strong, visual and obvious clue that it’s a legitimate cab,” O’Keeffe said.

As the number of licensed cab companies surged in recent years, and with more than 40 drivers working for these companies, concerns grew that not all taxis were safe.

The police department in April began a formal inspection process in which officers make sure that all cabs have proper markings, meet safety standards and are clean.

Police Chief Scott Livingstone said stickers on these vehicles indicate whether or not they have passed the inspections. The meters will be the other visible clue that the cab is allowed to operate in Amherst.

Anyone who is picking up people hailing cabs in Amherst in that doesn’t have a meter in the cab can be reported to police, which will investigate all complaints.

The 10 cab companies licensed to operate in Amherst in 2013 are Aaron’s Paradise Transportation, Ambassador Taxi, Celebrity Cab, Christian Coach, Gotta Go Taxi, Grab a Cab, Taxi Express, Tik Tak Taxi, Tiznit Valley Cab and Zigui Taxi.

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