The San Diego airport is requiring cab drivers not to smell bad. And the cab drivers are livid.
For years, inspectors with the San Diego Regional Airport Authority have run down their checklist for each cabbie — proof of insurance, functioning windshield wipers, adequate tire treads, good brakes. Drivers are graded pass, fail or needs fixing.
Anyone who flunks the smell test is told to change before picking up another customer.
The cab drivers say it’s racism and unfair. And indeed, cab drivers do tend to be immigrants.
A 2013 survey of 331 drivers by San Diego State University and Center on Policy Initiatives found 94 percent were immigrants and 65 percent were from East Africa.
Here’s the thing. Smell can be subjective. But smell can also be bad and if there’s an issue, and the government is in the business of licensing cabs and granting authority to operate (and until Uber and similar services, allowing little competition) then there ought to be minimum standards.
This objection from the cab drivers struck me as unpersuasive:
Others drivers question how inspectors distinguish between them and their cars. The checklist has a separate item for a vehicle’s “foul interior odors,” which Bloomfield says may include gasoline, vomit or mildew.
It’s unfair to assume they smell, when it really could be their cars — which would somehow be.. ok?
Now, I do feel for them being required to take any passenger willing to pay, since apparently another objection is that customers smell too. (The “I know you are, but what am I?” defense.)
I’m generally more concerned with the state of repair of taxis that pass inspection, they usually don’t have suspension systems in proper working order in my personal experience. And I’ve gotten into more than a few cabs late at night in my time where I’m convinced the driver has been drinking or the driver hasn’t slept in way too many hours to be driving.