CHAPEL HILL – The beginning of the new year also marks the beginning of new laws going into effect; in Chapel Hill this year, that means a set of new regulations designed to make it easier to ride taxis within town limits.

The Town Council enacted the new regulations last year after a push from former UNC student body president Mary Cooper.

The policy sets a flat rate of $6-8 per trip for all taxi rides within a one-and-a-half mile radius of Chapel Hill’s central business district—an area that covers all of downtown, most of campus, and most of the Northside neighborhood, where student housing is prevalent. The policy also sets fixed rates outside the flat-rate zone, establishes designated taxi stands at two spots along Franklin Street, and authorizes the Town Manager to set a “special event rate” of $5 per passenger for any major town or campus events that have the potential to cause major traffic congestion.

The idea behind the new policy is to encourage students to take advantage of cabs: they’re a good option for students leaving bars at night or heading to and from major events, but Cooper argued that students generally avoided them, in large part because of inconsistent rates.

The new policy went into effect on Tuesday, January 1.