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.
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