Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
Wildwood scraps local cab licenses
featured

Wildwood scraps local cab licenses

  • 0
{{featured_button_text}}

Meteorologist Joe Martucci loves forecasting for our towns in South Jersey. Subscribing to The Press of Atlantic City ensures your stories are being told. Go to pressofac.com/subscribe for our best offers. You can subscribe for a print and digital subscription, or take part in a digital-only package.

WILDWOOD — City officials have voted to stop issuing local taxicab licenses, saying with the advent of increased competition and ride-sharing services, they can no longer regulate the industry.

The city’s vote came during a meeting Wednesday over protests of traditional cab companies who say they’d be willing to pay some fees in exchange for the city’s policing of their industry.

The ordinance, approved unanimously on a final vote after a public hearing, ends local licenses and limits to taxis, an issue Wildwood has wrestled with for years, even before the advent of ride share services like Uber and Lyft.

Cab companies from out of town could drop off fares in Wildwood, but only one of the 19 licensed cab companies were supposed to pick up passengers within the city limits.

Enforcement was extremely difficult, Mayor Pete Byron said after the meeting. Wildwood shares a barrier island with four other municipalities: North Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, West Wildwood and a portion of Lower Township.

If each municipality had its own licenses and rules, it could make for an impossible situation, he said, in which a visitor to North Wildwood could take a taxi to an event in Wildwood, but could not take the same taxi back.

Years ago, he said, Wildwood agreed to take the lead on a single license for the entire island.

“It was just way too much responsibility. It was very difficult on us,” Byron said. “Then you bring in Uber and Lyft guys who are cherry picking on the established companies. We’re out of the cab business at this point.”

At the meeting, representatives suggested the cost of the licenses could be reduced, but did not want to see them scrapped completely.

Support Local Journalism

Your subscription makes our reporting possible.
{{featured_button_text}}

Charles Caruso, the manager of Checker Cab Company in Wildwood, argued that licenses were necessary to tell who can legally operate a taxi in the city. Drivers are fingerprinted and undergo security checks, he said, and the vehicles are marked. For now, a Wildwood license is displayed on the back windshield.

“If we don’t have that, then the city knows you’re not supposed to be here picking up,” he said.

A driver with the Yellow Cab Company said all businesses have had a tough year, facing new restrictions because of COVID-19, while fewer visitors came to the shore. The cost of the licenses are a burden, he said, but he argued that the licenses serve a purpose and should not be scrapped entirely.

“Businesses are suffering dramatically,” he said. “I don’t know if doing away with the licenses is the proper thing to do.”

He suggested reducing the cost to about $50, where the licenses once were. Byron was not sure of the current cost, but said it is about $750 for the year. Cab companies would still be required to obtain a local mercantile license like other businesses, he said.

Byron said the city’s move may mean a loss of some revenue, but not a significant amount as most of the license money goes to the Greater Wildwood Tourism Improvement and Development Authority.

Both cab company representatives say there is an increasing number of vehicles picking up passengers, including limo companies and ride-share drivers. Someone from the city said he saw someone charging for rides on a golf cart during Irish Weekend this year.

“That’s our biggest concern is people coming here and taking all of our local business away,” Caruso said. “We would like to have something that shows we’re legal to be here.”

He suggested there were security concerns. Local police know the licensed drivers, he said. Because of security concerns, neighboring North Wildwood has initiated a program encouraging users of ride share services to confirm the identity of the driver before entering the vehicle, by asking the driver to say the rider’s name as it appeared on the app.

There is no way for the city to prevent ride share services from coming over the bridge to Wildwood, Byron said, or to even track how many operate in town. He said he believes the ride-share model is unfair to the established taxi companies, but indicated there is nothing the city can do.

“Unfortunately, we’re not in a position to regulate that industry,” he said.

State regulations covering cab drivers will remain in effect, Byron said, but the city of Wildwood will no longer have its own licenses and regulations.

Get local news delivered to your inbox!

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

The best local coverage, unlimited

Sign up for a digital subscription to The Press of Atlantic City now and take advantage of a great offer.

LEARN MORE

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

PLEASE BE ADVISED: Soon we will no longer integrate with Facebook for story comments. The commenting option is not going away, however, readers will need to register for a FREE site account to continue sharing their thoughts and feedback on stories. If you already have an account (i.e. current subscribers, posting in obituary guestbooks, for submitting community events), you may use that login, otherwise, you will be prompted to create a new account.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

Breaking News