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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington City Council has not said much on the taxi cab shortage in downtown that occurs during busy nights, but on Tuesday the majority agreed that it should be looked into.

“I think it might be time for us to chat with the cab companies again about getting more cabs out on the street, especially at busy times,” said Councilman Kevin O’Grady.

WWAY has spoken to many cab drivers that say the problem with the number of cabs downtown lies in the number of permits from the city. These drivers say if more permits cannot be issued than an exemption on busy nights like New Year’s would solve the cab shortage. Councilman O’Grady says he’s not sure if that is the best first step. The majority of council do agree though that the conversation regarding the cab shortage downtown is worth bringing up, especially with the cab companies who hold the majority of the permits that allow drivers to pick up downtown.

“They have always ensured me personally that there were plenty of cabs downtown,” O’Grady said. “I guess the question is why can’t we get them out on the street when they are most needed.”

Even though some city council members have acknowledged the cab shortage on busy nights, there is no word yet if council plans to bring the topic up during an upcoming meeting.

Comment on this Story

  • Tim

    This WAS a big story when it happened ONCE over a year ago. The people guilty of this crime were caught and this scenario wasn’t allowed to happen again. Those of us that look at the WHOLE issue instead of just a one sided view know that this story is akin to beating a dead horse. At this point in time all the above statements are irrelevant and untrue. By the way, the SBI is listed in the phone book and on the internet. Why haven’t YOU reported this “Big News Story” directly to them? I mean, you have TONS of evidence right? Contact them, get it started. All it takes is to be able to PROVE what you say is true…you got this! (lolololol)

  • Just Another One

    How about Exploiting a “W number Blackmarket Loophole” where one cab company sells a permitted vehicle to another cab company, for X Amount of Thousand$ of Dollar$, which removes said permit, then sells said vehicle back to the original cab company for a dollar… Evil but legal? Okay, good…

    But the License Plates for the vehicle(s) sold, are never, re-registered with the DMV without even the Vehicle Title reflecting that a financial Transaction of said vehicle has occurred !!

    And the IRS is never, notified of the transaction. And this happens in the light of day. The DMV & IRS are being cut out of Financial Transactions, losing money they would normally be generating from all of the “W number Blackmarket Loophole” exploits.

    And you wonder why some Cab Companies are selling/buying these City Permits (capped W numbers) from each other for Thousands of dollars? Or why it’s so hard for a Cab Company to make an honest living while LOWERING DUI & DWI from the streets?!

    This is a Big News Story that would probably get the quick attention of even the Good Folks at the SBI, involved in a W-Number Audit. You want a news story, well, here ya go !!

  • actually

    State Laws trump City Laws. No such thing as a city license plate. Sorry.


    Look man you are ILLEGAL TAXI you know you need w# to start a cab and I love to know why the SECY OF STATE NEED YOUR TA TAG any one can get one that don’t mean you are ligel taxi lol get over your self and go find a job and I am sure you have no life so try to get one and get lost. By the way who sig on you TA tag? The airport? By the way all the illegal cabs trying to get there tags from Leland or burgow or other county’s all the DMV agencies will b notified soon. Ps port city kats letts they need drivers all the time and soon I will post all the illegal taxis in Wilmington so please don’t ride with them for your SAFTEY

  • Tim

    TECHNICALLY: they are NOT legal to do business within a 5 mile radius of the Wilmington city limits. AND…own municipality or not…as set up, the airport authority cannot make any rules or regulations that conflict with the laws of the State of North Carolina. North Carolina says a business license CAN NOT cost more than $15.00 per YEAR. The airport charges what? It no shock the cabs permitted up there don’t make any money, what with how much they have to pay the airport for a permit.

  • guess again

    the airport is its own municipality so even non w cabs are legal. If thet have TA tags and are registered with the nc secy of state they are legal. Get over it.

  • Question??

    So that will make airport cabs without w# Illegal

  • yes he can

    Yes your driver can come and get you from Wilmington if you pay hem for a round trip and a ricpet from hem that’s all what you need to do

  • in response to brandon

    the non W cab you are talking about is a FOR HIRE vehicle. There is a huge difference between For Hire vehicles and gypsy cabs vs city and airport permitted cabs. All cabs with Ta plates are inspected and background checked. So W numbers are NOT the ONLY safe cabs. Airport cabs are safe and so are the Brunswick and Pender county licensed cabs.

  • What about Port City Taxi?

    A few years ago the remains of two women were found off Carolina Beach Road. A driver for a W# cab for Port City Taxi is still one of the murder suspects. Shouldn’t throw stones in glass houses.

  • Brandon

    If u don’t have w# cab you are not lagged that’s the end of it get a life and stay the hill out of our city

  • Coustamer

    I got question if I use a non w# cab from the airport and he give me a ride to Wilmington can he come back and pick me up to take me back to ilm?

  • Bruce

    One day soon an illegal taxi will run a red light and hit someone and run. There will be plenty of witnesses who will identify it as “XYZ TAXI”. But the police will look it up and say “we have no record of an XYZ TAXI.” Or a uncw student will get robbed and raped late one friday night. Or any other horrible thing could happen because these cabs are allowed to run around every night unlicensed. They’re already out there. Some have been running for several years with no city license. These people knew when they bought, metered, and lettered their vehicles that there were no more W#’s left in the city. They chose to break the law. In some cases, because they knew they couldn’t pass the city background/drug test. They are running an illegal, unlicensed business. The same as anyone that sells drugs or burned DVDs. Except noone in WPD is even trying to stop them. They say that it is unfair and they aren’t allowed to work in a “right to work” state. Not true. At any time they could go apply for a job with a licensed company and work for them. Kats, Letts, Yellow, and Port City are always hiring. Again, they CHOOSE to operate illegallly.

  • should be that easy

    Should be that easy but it’s not. This argument has been going on for years. Tell city council. Again. They don’t listen to anyone but the W cabs.

  • citizen with a question

    is there a general statute someplace that states this? All i have to go on is what the wilmington police said in my previous post. How do u know this is true?

  • Tracie Crisante

    “There would be no fault in any taxi company going before the city to request more taxi permits in Wilmington to be able to make a living in the taxi business here.”
    I post this from my previous reply to this story for those that took what they wanted out of my post instead of reading the entire thing. As also previously stated, I do not want to publicly debate, attack or slander any company or driver.
    What is really “too bad”… when I started in this business, ALL cab drivers were cab drivers. It didn’t make a difference which company you drove for. You all worked together, helping each other….with FRIENDLY competition. Not once in my post did I mention any specific name or company. Not once did I compare any vehicle or driver to another. Nor do I plan to. I invite anyone to contact me regarding this whole “them vs us” circus. I don’t see it as “them vs us” but it’s painfully obvious there are those that do. I hear more complaints about other cab companies than probably all of the ILM cabs listen to put together. But, with no proof, I can’t just go on a rant on Facebook or call the newspaper about all the other companies in Wilmington. The only goal is taking care of the customer.
    My whole concern is: does the cab actually have a business license to do business within the city limits? That’s it. No one person has the authority to change the fact that there are 155 business licenses to operate a taxi cab in the city of Wilmington. To do this, those concerned with raising that number simply have to request to be put on a docket to speak at a city council meeting, then go speak! Just because you don’t have a “W” number doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to be heard. Just because you don’t have a “W” number doesn’t mean things can’t ever be changed.
    Why can’t some of the energy being put into “ILM Cabs are better than City cabs” be put into ALL permitted cabs getting together and getting the “gypsies” put out of business? All the “cabs” with regular plates, no markings, no meters,”limos” running as taxis, ZERO permits, charging whatever they want? Is it alright for ANY of our customers to be fooled by these vehicles? I would hope the collective answer is “no”.
    I referenced an ILLEGAL vehicle (this would be a taxi not permitted ANYWHERE) being involved in a hit and run at Sam’s club. This company couldn’t be found because they’re totally a “gypsy”, no record of them with any permitting agency (Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach or ILM). Over the New Year’s weekend it was reported a taxi hit a fire hydrant, the driver was drunk. Again…a totally illegal taxi cab. Why am I hearing none of this in the oh so vast public venue of the internet and the media? These weren’t one of our drivers, they weren’t the drivers of airport permitted cabs. But, these aforementioned taxis don’t have a business license to operate in the city. How could the city possibly cite these cabs but leave the cabs who hold airport or Wrightsville Beach permits but not Wilmington permits alone? They can’t. That would be construed as “favoritism” or whatever anyone wants to call it.
    Could I send one of our cabs up to the airport to sit in the taxi line? No I can’t. Why? Because they don’t have airport permits. Any of our vehicles could be permitted at ILM, I choose not to have our vehicles sit in a line of (sometimes) more than 15 cabs, it’s just not cost effective. (I wish someone permitted at the airport would do their research as to the legality of the $200/quarter (!!) fee just to operate out of the airport-I’ll give you a hint: NC statute on the amount of a business license and GA Act setting up the airport authority-check it for yourselves).
    A few FACTS:
    a. Katt’s Transportation does not own a red cab nor have we owned a red cab in over 4 years.
    b. (This will cause a stir but oh well) ANY cab in Wilmington has been and is subject to an inspection at any time, anywhere the taxi inspector shows up. Any of my drivers can verify this, they’ve been through it.
    c. There is nothing wrong with HEALTHY competition. This would mean not slandering people publicly with what you “think” you know. Nowhere have I stated that I have been for or against: limited or open competition, monopolistic practices (you guys have really latched on to this phrase-I don’t think this city falls under that description-how many cab companies are there?) or free trade.
    d. Most first time customers think we’re all the same company.
    e. There isn’t any “cloak and dagger” going on in the taxi inspectors office or the city council building, it’s a pretty simple process. (My favorite comment was by the guy who said some reporter could win a Pulitzer with an investigative story-highly unlikely-but stranger things have happened).
    Finally, a few of questions:
    1.Does it really make sense to anyone that the main point of the story appears to be it’s the fault of the cap on “W” numbered cabs that people have to wait so long downtown when most of the cabs permitted elsewhere are all downtown anyway and there is STILL a wait for a cab on the big nights?
    2. How many taxis will be “enough”?
    3. Will more taxis than there are now (this IS including all the non “W” taxis) not cause more unwanted congestion in downtown Wilmington?
    4. How many people know the city regulated cabs haven’t had a rate raise in years?
    5. If the “cap” is raised by the city for only the “big” holidays, and people still have a wait (which is a GIVEN), what then?
    There is more, so much more, that could be posted. Not propaganda, spite or hate. It saddens me it has to be like this. Thanks for reading and hopefully understanding.

  • Yes he can

    Yes your driver can come and get you from Wilmington if you pay hem for a round trip and a ricpet from hem that’s all what you need to do

  • Brandon


    Amro Abraham Khatib was arrested on multiple drug, weapon and driving charges early Sunday, Dec. 18, on Causeway Drive in Wrightsville Beach. He was released on $5,000 unsecured bail.

    Capt. M. Core stated on Tuesday, Dec. 20, that Khatib was stopped at 12:10 a.m. on Sunday on suspicion of failure to obtain a taxi permit from the town. He added that police found 5.4 grams of marijuana, amphetamines and rolling papers in the vehicle, and they also found an expandable baton.

    Khatib, 22, is from Wilmington. He has been charged with possession of marijuana with intent to sell or distribute, possession of a Schedule II drug, possession of a Schedule IV drug, carrying a concealed weapon, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving while license revoked.

    A spokesman from the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office stated that Khatib was also charged with communicating threats, in November. This is one of the non w# cabs owner that want the city to issue more permits so please Wilmington don’t waist you time with all the losers and please DONT RIDE WITH ANY CAB THAT DON’T HAVE A W# FOR YOU SAFTY WITH YOU HELP WE CAN STOP THEM

  • erik

    I don’t understand what there is to discuss? Certain times of the year extra cabs are needed SO LET THEM WORK this helps everyone.
    This really is pathetically easy no need to discuss it JUST MAKE IT SO!

  • Citizen with a Question

    I would like to know why, as a resident of Leland, why is it that I am not allowed to call a Brunswick county permitted cab to take me to Wilmington and to pick me up and bring me home from Wilmington? This to me makes absolutely no sense at all. I have used this particular cab company for the last 7 years, and now he is being told by the city of wilmington police that he is not allowed to pick me up in Wilmington even if I CALL HIM?? Don’t I have a right to call any legally permitted taxi company in the state of NC that I chose to transport me wherever I want?? I was informed that he could be ticketed for picking me up within city limits even if I CALL HIM for a ride. To me this is insane. What gives the city of Wilmington the right to do this? I’m talking about a legally license and insured taxi company, an inspected and regulated cab, registered with the NC secretary of state. A completely LEGAL TAXI COMPANY that is not allowed to pick me up at MY request? There is something seriously wrong with this picture. Something seriously wrong with the city of Wilmington, and I for one, am glad I am not a resident.

  • Guest hohoho

    First of all I use to drive a taxi I never owned one and I don’t know who you talking abut but you can get a life and get the hill out of my home town the city is doing the right thing so ppl like you don’t that don’t have w# need to go out so the Wilmington ppl feel safer in a taxi I know who you are to trust me if you don’t like it you know where the highway is

  • I know you..

    I for one have never seen an Airport NON W cab without a TA Tag, which is a legal North Carolina plate for a TAXI Hence the TA before the number. SO AIRPORT CABS ARE COMPLETELY LEGAL. I know who you are HOHOHO… And you were once a NON W Airport cab… until you bought a few W Numbers (ILLEGALLY) for your company and flipped sides. Now I hear from all your employee’s that drive for the couple of cabs you own, what a “slave driver” you are and how you tell them to “hot meter” all of the customers they drive (which is also illegal), and if they dont, you take the money they would have made dishonestly out of their cut! Disgraceful! And you know darn well how perfectly regulated and inspected the airport cabs are. They are held to much higher standards than W Numbers are and are inspected much more thoroughly and far more frequently than W Number cabs. So why dont you take your lying cheating flip flopping self back to where YOU came from? Quit your lying and abuse of your customers and employee’s and get out of here.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday

    “Gee….we can’t figure out why we don’t have enough cabs after initiating our wonderful plan to limit the number of cabs we permit to pick up fares in Wilmington. It’s a mystery!”

    Perhaps you brain trusts need to budget $80k so that one of your cronies or relatives can conduct a study? Whose turn is it to lap at the gravy trough?

  • Guest7969

    FIX a problem YOU CREATED…how novel…

  • Robert Green

    Here is a novel idea,how about let the free market determine the number of taxis that are necessary duing high volume days.It is encouraging that there is a high demand for taxis downtown because this suggest people are making responsible decisions not to drink and drive.

    From regulating the numbers of signs in storefronts and taxi permits,our city government waste too much time micro-managing issues that could be sorted out without intervention.The City of Wilmington is not good at their core responsiblities…providing adequate services and imfrastructure.They are to preoccupied with their money grabs(forced annexation) of balancing their budget on the backs of taxpayers.In the business world, if you are not good at your core business, you sure as hell do not look to expand a dysfunctional operation.It does not help that your operation is ran by imcompetent personnel in the first place.Due to a lazy and disengaged city electorate, you get these political retreads year after year,who run roughshod over the taxpayers.

    While the folks in the City of Wilmington are in a slumber,the political dynamics in our state are changing for the better…conservative, responsible government after 100 plus years of corrupt, Democratic rule.Some of the remnants of this corrupt culture remain with Gov. Happy Perdue and AG Roy Cooper still in place.This will in all probably change next election with Pat McCrory knocking off Happy and a conservative veteo-proof General Assembly in place.Bill Saffo and his liberal cronies will be isolated once this change takes place.There will be few political favors coming his way.A good history lesson for Bill Saffo would be to look to his homeland of Greece.Liberal policies eventually run your people into the financial ditch.

  • Tracie Crisante

    It’s too bad the propaganda abounds before the reality is looked at. There are many “stories” from the disgruntled taxi cab owners and drivers who can’t get one of the 155 business licenses in the city of Wilmington. Many of these same owners and drivers have already given up their “W” numbers only to go drive for those companies who don’t have said business license. Companies who are picking up within the city limits every day. Why did they give up their business license? In most cases it’s due to the fact that, on a yearly basis, they couldn’t make ends meet and had to close their companies. These same people were INCLUDED in the 155 cap and couldn’t make ends meet because three nights a year isn’t enough to successfully have a taxi company in Wilmington. So they got out. Understandably so. But does it give them the right to go another company to operate a cab within the city limits that may very well be permitted at the airport and in Wrightsville Beach? As of this moment, it does not. Do any of the airport or beach cabs find it okay for their customers to be picked up in a van not permitted anywhere? Should our consumers unknowingly get into vehicles that look like a taxi, say they’re a taxi but have non commercial plates and/or insurance? Should any consumer be comfortable knowing that an illegal taxi could hit and run someone’s car in Sam’s Club parking lot and not be found because the owner of the cab says “I’m going to operate illegally anyway”?
    The bottom line is….this is illegal. Today, right now.
    I am the current manager of Katt’s Transportation Services, LLC. We are a company who holds “W” numbers for all of our vehicles. We have to obtain all proper licenses and insurance. We have to obey all current laws and statutes. Our drivers have to be drug tested, have a background check and obtain a driver permit issued by the city, annually. Our company waited approximately 3 years for the last permit we sought to obtain. We waited. We paid our $15.00 and obtained the permit, legally, this does include having the vehicle and the taxi meter inspected by the city taxi inspector. We didn’t “pay off” anyone. We get no special treatment. I have yet, in the 16 years I have been in this business in Wilmington, to encounter a “black market”.
    The unfair public attack on the companies who hold permits, the taxi inspector and the city of Wilmington only reveals the view of those who don’t hold city permits. We all have to get permits to operate in Wrightsville Beach. Any company who wants to que in the taxi line at the airport has to purchase an airport permit. Not one of the companies that hold those permits will sit back and let non permitted airport or beach cabs do business at these places because….THEY DON’T HOLD PERMITS.
    Yes, as Americans, we see free enterprise as a right. But we still have to follow the law. Not only to protect ourselves but to protect our customers. There would be no fault in any taxi company going before the city to request more taxi permits in Wilmington to be able to make a living in the taxi business here. But more permits does not a solution make. More permits will not help those cab owners and drivers who WILL give up their businesses because they’re not making money now. More permits will not stop a slight rise in business a few nights a year. More permits will certainly not guarantee there will never be a wait on a taxi. And allowing opening of permits for only a selected few nights a year will produce more vehicles that, for the rest of the year, are operating without a business license. We can’t solve this very problem now….how will it be solved then?
    I don’t send this reply in the hope of getting into a public debate with others in the taxi industry here. This reply is in no way an attack on any one company/owner/driver. It’s only to bring to the public more of the facts regarding an issue that is much broader than what is currently in the media.

  • GuestWanderer

    I must respectfully disagree with some of the points you made. Before I explain why, I wish to congratulate and thank you for your post because it was provocative and non-confrontational. It’s clear you want to discuss this issue in an attempt to create a real and lasting situation, and not just line your own pockets.

    My job requires me to frequently call for taxis for people in this area who need them. I have a list of the companies that are legally allowed to operate taxis. I rotate through that list equally. Facts learned from my perspective: There are ALWAYS delays in getting a cab to the person needing one. I always ask for an estimated time of arrival, and I can assure you that it is NEVER immediate. In addition, the taxi dispatchers almost ALWAYS sound harried and frequently agitated because they are under a lot of pressure due to demand for taxis. For these reasons, I disagree with the notion that more permits is not part of the solution. Based on my extensive experience in dealing with taxis, there simply are not enough taxis available to meet the demand. If more legitimate taxis were on standby at places that you mentioned, such as the airport, the illegal taxis would soon find no room.

  • RSimmons

    The problem as I see it is that on a normal day there is no profitable way to keep 155 badged cabs on the street. IMO there should be broader distribution of the available badges to include more independents and smaller operations. The city should also allow leasing of the badges so that the larger companies could lease out unused badges on holiday and event weekends to smaller companies and independents.


    The people are not voting for city permits, they are voting for FREE TRADE!!! Go look at the pole. Over 500 votes 88% of the people are saying they want more cabs, NOT W # CABS. THEY ARE VOTING FOR FREE TRADE!! WHAT AMERICA WAS BUILT ON!!!

  • we the people

    The Poll asks if we believe that any LEGITIMATE cab company should be able to pick people up downtown, OR if the city needs to only allow those who get city permits to go downtown. The airport cabs, and the wrightsville beach cabs, and all the other surrounding counties cabs are all LEGITIMATE cabs. They all had to go through the same background checks and inspections you stated, only the airport cabs background checks and inspections are more frequent and more thorough.
    All the LEGITIMATE cab companies have all proper licenses and insurance. They have to obey all current laws and statutes. The drivers have to be drug tested, have a background check , annually. The cabs are inspected QUARTERLY, so thats more then the W numbers right there.
    Now back to the poll… the people have spoken. They believe in a free market where all LEGITIMATE cabs should be able to do business. It’s a landslide.
    ps I’m not talking about gypsy cabs.

  • Airport cabs vs City cabs

    The non W Cabs, and in particular those certified by the ILM Airport, undergo heavy regulatory measures, that the Kats taxis, Port City Taxis and the Mr.Taxis and other W Numbered Taxis do not, such as but not limited to
    – Not permitted to wear Denim Jeans
    – Security Clearance by the US Department of Defense.
    – Made to wear collared shirts only
    – First to utilize 10 year background checks instead of 5
    – No smoking permitted in cabs while at the Airport
    – Drug Tests annually and randomly
    – Inspected Meters quarterly
    – ILM Inspected Taxi Cabs 4 times a year (Wilmington has yearly Inspections)
    – Background checks from current state and state of original birth
    – Not permitted to wear Denim Jeans

    The Cabs are also held to a higher standard, being checked quarterly & randomly throughout the year rather then, as W numbered Taxis – just once a year. Airport permitted Taxis must be free of major dents, must be clean and have meter certification, along with being tested for accuracy.

    Personally, the writer of this letter, I myself have been parked behind W Numbered Cabs, they are dirty, some people urinate in them, they are not free from major dents, the exhaust system on one W Numbered cab smelt as though the converter had been removed – to save gas. There are stories, of some W Numbered Cab Drivers, who are the “Go To” for Narcotics and Escorts.

    Please remember Wrightsville Beach is not plagued with the same over crowding, DUIs, fights, robberies and rapes of opportunity as Wilmington Downtown is. Please view for yourself any weekend how awful it is to be a Citizen Downtown. Lets not bring the long lines, raised DUIs and raised incidents of fights to Wrightsville Beach.. Let us feed our families while you retain a choice for your Citizens, for the cleaner, truly safer Taxis, the Non W ILM permitted cabs.

  • Hohoho

    The Wilmington airport cabs is not inspect it by inspector any one can inspect the headlight on a car my point all the non w# cabs need to go all the non w# cabs know u need a Wilmington permit to start a taxi so if u like driving a cab so much u can lease one with w# if you cant handel that McDonald is your other option so good luck to all the w# cabs i hop the city help inspector bluford to Clean the city from all the illegal cabs that incloud all the ppl that think can run the city and tell them what to do if u don’t like it get out of here go back to where u come from

  • GuestHope

    I hope you drive better than you write. I’ve read your post 3 times, and there are still parts that I can’t understand. At the very least, using punctuation would help.

    How can we agree with your post if we can’t even understand what you’re talking about?

  • Tracie Crisante

    Thank you for your input and a very professional response. As someone who is responsible for calling taxis for customers I would be interested in speaking to you at some point to get more input from you. I didn’t plan on either of my responses taking up as much space on this public forum and don’t want to continue to do so. I am at our office Monday through Friday. Our number is in the phone book. Thank you again.


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