People just want a ride home. But they are caught up in red tape. Im game for open Competition. I say remove the 155 Cap completely and let Cabs lower their prices. But at least if nothing else - stop harrassing Certified Non Ws.
I dont hate Kats. Heck - I send them Business all of the time. So do many other Non Ws. Dont believe me? Consider that run from the Courts to Avalon Apts you got yesterday, as one example.. The more street business Kats has, the more Letts & Yellow Cab will go after their own CSX Trains - which I hear keeps them very well fed. Port City Taxi with their TWIC cards can have the Brunswick/Hanover Ports & Fayetteville Army runs that they have been enjoying... Did that plan for only Letts & Yellow to run the new WAVE Terminal fall through - or is it still, in plans for only them? And is Yellow Cab not being merged with Letts just to avoid a Clayton Act Violation or, just for good oldtime sake ? Honest question.
Between that and Medical Runs - where sick peoples medical insurance is over charged on waiting time - Id say the Big Companies are doing very well for themselves.
If we removed the Limiting Cap on Taxis - you get lower prices, more competition, more choice in cabs, less fights and Lower Crime downtown. But hey - its not what the Big Companies want - is it?
"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.
Anyone can go to the Airport and see Letts & Yellow Cab there. That throws your whole argument Steve, out the window. Most
Non W# Cabs, do provide 24/7 Transportation. Even better - quite often, the person you speak with on the phone will be the person driving you - so there's no mystery.
Also, there is no nonverbal understanding, as many W# Cabs are servicing the Airport. A comparison of Non W vs W cabs, is thouroughly elaborated on in a below post titled: Airport cabs are better than City Permited cabs, hands down.
There is one reason why certified Cabs do not have W Numbers. Its the same reason why Steve, PEOPLE ARE FORCED TO WAIT LONG PERIODS FOR A CAB DOWNTOWN. It is because the Industry has a CAP on W Numbers and the Taxi Companies with W Numbers, are, of course, Fighting to Protect the W Numbers.
Those W Numbered Cabs are not 'Etitled' to anything. People, Citizens, are however, Entitled and should have a Right to Choice, of which Cab they want to pick them up in when Downtown. But you would rather remove that choice - wouldnt you Steve ?
I welcome your comment to my post, I wish since I identified myself you would do the same, but that is not necessary. I will address your points as follows...
1) You do know that Lett's and Yellow are the same Cab Company. They rent an office at the Airport trying to "monopolize", your words, the Airport buisiness. I think that soliciting inside the Airport is against the rules, but you will have to check that.
2) I would love of list of Non-W Cab Companies that work 24/7, however I will never see that list. To effectively run 24/7 you would need a force of a minimum of 6 cabs. Otherwise drivers would be running on no sleep and that is very dangerous.
3) Your point to the people that call the drivers know who's coming is mute. Our Company is commited to Driver's Request First, dispatch calls second. As a large company we can cover all of these calls.
4) The comparison between Airport cabs and Working cabs is also a fallacy. Cabs at the Airport pick up and use Highways, the Parkway or go to Landfall, of course their cleaner at that point, their driving in straight lines with no wear and tear, no sand and no dirt. A real cab goes down dirt roads, gravel roads, through mud-holes, but we find our people and pick them up. They pick up at the Beach and get sand all over the place and we still manage to keep these cabs clean and in great repair.
5) The reason "Certified Cabs" do not have "W" numbers is because they want to work for themselves, therefore, eliminating themselves from contention because they dont want to play by the rules. They want only the big rides, short hours, no "Bad" rides in the area's they dont want to go to (our public housing area's).
Comment: A real cab driver takes every call, regardless of the area, the time or the shortness of the ride. A ride to work, a trip to the store, or a 911 call for people in trouble. Most cabs wont do this, we do, and will continue to do so!!!
6) We are entitled because we are playing by the rules!!! When you comply with the rules as we have, you will also be entitled to pick up Downtown. It's that simple. No "W" number, no ride...
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.
Simple answer to a simple problem...
1) Choose your spot, Airport, Beach, Wilmington. Good.
2) Comply with the rules of your choice. Good.
Comment: Choices have consequences, some choose to comply with the Airport rules and some choose to comply with the Wilmington Rules. This is Capitalism at it's finest. Why is it that some people want to infringe on others choices?
3) Independent and small companies usually gravitate to the Airport, why? They dont have the ability to service the City of Wilmington. No Dispatch, several cabs and no 24/7 coverage. That is why they choose the Airport. It's a good choice. They are not prepared for Wilmington City Coverage.
4) Large companies bet on the opposite. They bet on the amount of rides, not the dollar amount of each ride. Some rides are losers, most are not. They provide 24/7 coverage to all parts of the City. Most Independent Companies can not provide this service.
5) Large companies receive city permits because they are willing to take this risk. The smaller companies cry foul on the big nights that the legally permitted cabs are entitled to!!! The small companies are not prepared to take this risk.
6) All of our 30 Vehicles are Airport ready, our drivers after passing FBI Background checks and City Drug Tests are willing to work at the Airport. For the longest time I thought we had reached a non-verbal agreement, you guys work the Airport and we will work the town.
7) Why is it that most of the Airport Drivers cant get a job with a larger Cab Company? I dont know, they prefer to work five hours a night, 3 nights a week. My suggestion to management is to move to the Junction and then eventually Carolina Beach. How about first we just permit all out Cabs at the Airport?
A Manager of Kats would OF COURSE support havig Limited Competition, Monopolistic Practices and be adamatly opposed to Open Competition, Free Markets...
Kats Cabs can do better. I drive a Taxi. I hear complaints often about smoking Taxi Drivers in City Permitted Cabs, smelly drivers, dishelved, rude, vulgar and even at times - intoxicated.
As a matter of fact - I could barely breathe parked behind a red taxi cabs that I think was Kats. The smoke from the exaust was below average one would expect from a vehicle.
People just want to get home safely. Airport Cabs go through Homeland Security Clearance. If the Busiess wasnt there - we wouldnt want it. But heres what you have - people fighting over Taxi Cabs because the Big Companies, as seen above - dont want more competition, tey dot wat to lower their prices. The Big Companies fight to keep the business all to themselves - while Innocent Citizens are left stranded waiting for a cab. You know why you wait so long for a Taxi ? Because the Big Companies are having their way. You can thank people like the Manager of Kats for that.
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.
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.
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.
The people are voting for FREE TRADE!!! Not City Permits. The poll is black and white Wilmington. OPEN YOUR EYES. The people are voting for FREE TRADE!!!
The ppl did not vote the non w# did and the illegal taxi derivers did it's not the public
This is a rare moment - but I applaud WWAY for at least posting this poll as a way of opening the door to this issue. I would challenge Scott Pickey and the team to take the lead on this and pry open the doors to the corruption that surrounds this issue. I have been hearing from small business taxi owners for a few years now about how unbelievable corrupt and crooked this local system is. We have a taxi czar here who is completely unelected, and gets to singlehandedly decide who lives and dies in the taxi business. He can deny permits for no reason; and he can grant them to the highest bidder. There is no telling how much money flows under the table with this. And the whole time, the city council is completely complicit as usual with anything corrupt.
WWAY, please stay on top of this, roll up your sleeves, and do some old-fashioned investigative reporting. We know you can shove cameras and microphones in people's faces, and demand answers. This is the seminal issue in which this type of reporting needs to be executed.
This is serious potential Pulitzer material if you can get to the bottom of it...
You are what is wrong with this state and nation...
I think there should be no restriction on the amount of taxis permitted downtown Wilmington like most other successfull cities with a good economy and lower unemployment. Let the free market supply the best cab service to our citizens. Those who work hard and supply clean, safe, reliable service will thrive, and all of the W# Wilmington cabs that work Wrightville Beach and aren't even going downtown when we need them, will have something to compete for. The way it is now is simply foolish. Why would we restrict the amount of business licenses,priveleges, and Taxi permits, when we need to bring as much business and prosperity to Wilmington as possible? Some one needs to investigate how the permits holders are really selected. I know there are several legitimate Taxi companies licensed in this State and County that are threatened not to work in Wilmington. If the City was run like the Airport and each vehicle paid a $200 quarterly fee,and there were no limit on the amount of permits, and each driver was threat assessed and criminal and DMV background checked and drug tested annually, then the tax tax payers would not be on the hook for paying for the present system that doesn't work. There is absolutely no reason for people having to wait late at night for two hours or more when the bars let out,only to find the crowds getting roudy and no way out because we have a restriction on what taxi companies are allowed to help out, and knowing that many of the ones who are allowed are working the Wrightsville beach area first until they are all home and then going downtown. I think it is a proven fact that the free market always supplies the best,most efficient and effective services because of competion. When you have a controlled, closed system like we have now one thing for sure will happen, the service is lacking terribly due to no competition driving the market. It's now like a Taxi club. Lets end the retriction on the amount of legal legit Taxis and let the free market supply our citizens with the best most competitive service and take the burden off the backs of the tax payers, and make the Chamber of Commerce and City Council happy that the safety of our citizens will be much better served when they can get fast prompt service all while bringing in more patrons and people from other areas to spend money downtown. Just a thought! It makes sense to me.
If only "Permitted Cabs" can go Downtown - then nothing changes, because, there are only 155 Permits issued and no more. There is a "PERMIT CAP". This is why people wait so long for a Taxi.
Right now, to get a permit, Cab Companies buy them from other Cab Companies, for Thousands of Dollar$, by buying a Cab from a permitted company, removing the Permit (W Number) then selling the vehicle back to the original owner - to exploit a Loophole.
But during the sale, the DMV Title NEVER reflects the purchase, and the Vehicle Taxi License Plate NEVER is removed.
That means, I buy your car for $5K, remove a sticker permit, sell back your car to you for a dollar, and we are both on our way. The IRS does not get any money from the transaction. The DMV does not get any reregistration fees or any money from the transaction.
IF THE SBI AUDITED THE WILMINGTON NC TAXI INSPECTORS RECORDS, HEADS WOULD MOST LIKELY SPIN. Corrupt System or Broken One or Both ? You decide.
People should not have to wait long for a Taxi Cab. "VOTE NO !!" on limiting the number of Cabs that YOU have a RIGHT to CHOOSE from !!
JUST ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF GOVERMENT REGULATING AGAINST THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE, ESP, THE LOCAL YOKLE GOVERMENT WE HAVE, BUTT OUT.