Taxi drivers protest Monday in Cambridge.

Taxi drivers protest Monday in Cambridge. (Photo: Blake Parker via Twitter)

From the board of directors of the Arthur J. Santoro Cambridge Taxi School, Aug. 4: There has been a lot of discussion over the past 24 hours about the Cambridge taxi driver protest. During the quarterly meeting of the board of the Taxi School, which was held Tuesday morning, it was unanimously agreed upon by the board to publicly address some of the issues around the protest.

LetterThe protest was organized as a catalyst to encourage public discussion in regard to leveling the playing field between Cambridge taxi drivers and every other entity that picks up passengers in the city, including, but not limited to, Uber and Lyft.

For more than 20 years, Cambridge has held the unique position of having the only taxi school in the state that is organized and overseen by major stakeholders of the industry. Board members are medallion owners and taxi drivers, as well as representatives from business associations, hotels, the License Commission, the Police Department, the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department, radio dispatch services and the Council on Aging.

The genesis of the school began with a taxi driver, Arthur J. Santoro. With other leaders, he established the school with the goal to train drivers to ensure the best possible service and the safest possible experience for the general public.

The curriculum of the school is taught by industry practitioners, city employees and Cambridge police officers. Training sessions include an industry overview, the day in the life of a driver, geography and navigation, serving the elderly and disabled, customer service and professionalism, diversity, taxicab communications, rules and regulations, driver safety and defensive driving.

Over the years, the school’s curriculum was expanded to include a significant vetting process that incorporates criminal background checks, English proficiency, the city’s Senior Discount Coupon Program (which serves seniors and disabled residents) and competence in navigating the backstreets – an absolute necessity when unexpected road closings or traffic situations arise.

“Cambridge is unique in so many ways and we are proud of it … attending Taxi School is a just another progressive, thoughtful and vigilant part of our process. No hackney driver is licensed in the City of Cambridge without attending our taxi school and passing a written test,” said Richard Carbone, chairman of the board. “Over the years, thousands of Cambridge taxi drivers have been professionally trained and properly vetted to safeguard the public. Our training gives us confidence that the quality of our drivers and the service they provide is exceptional.”

Carbone went on to say, “The issue is really quite simple; we believe that every driver – regardless of their business – picking up passengers within our city limits should be held to the same high standards that we currently hold our licensed taxi drivers to. It all comes down to safety and professionalism. The public deserves no less … they should demand it, and the Cambridge City Council should too.”