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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New Year’s Eve is one of the biggest party nights of the year in downtown Wilmington. Often with big crowds, come big problems, but this year Wilmington police say there were no major issues except for the shortage of taxi cabs. Several downtown businesses like Orton’s Underground agree.

“I don’t even know how people all get home a lot of times,” said Rich Anderson, Orton’s Underground general manager. “Every year it’s the same thing, a lot of people and no way to get home. They call the cab companies and they just can’t get a cab.”

The police department agrees that the lack of cabs has become an issue in the past. Several cab drivers we spoke to at Wilmington International Airport say there are enough cabs in the county but there is not enough permits from the city of Wilmington which allows these drivers to pick up people in downtown.

“They call them non-W’s which means they don’t have a Wilmington taxi permit,” said cab driver Nile Johnson. “If they get caught going into downtown Wilmington they get a citation saying they are illegally soliciting downtown.”

While some cab drivers say more permits should be allowed, others say they would be happy if the city would make an exemption on busy party nights like Fourth of July, Halloween and New Year’s.

“The city of Wilmington on certain nights of the year, maybe three nights of the year, should have a clause that all cabs are permitted to work the whole county for them three nights,” said James Allen, cab driver. “That way everybody can get home.”

WWAY tried contacting several members of city council Monday. We did hear from Councilman Charlie Rivenbark who thinks a permit exemption on busy party nights is worth looking into.

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