Taxi Roof Ads Moving Forward

OCEAN CITY – Taxi owners moved one step closer this week to having the ability to earn additional revenue though alternative means.

A couple of weeks ago, Kevin Lyons, owner of Community Cab, requested an increase in base fare rates and a change in the taxi indicator roof light to an advertising carrier.

Lyons’ request to increase fare rates was denied, but the Mayor and City Council did agree to allow a change to an advertising carrier as well as to allow a $1 surcharge once fuel prices reach $4 per gallon.

At that time, Lyons said that the sign would potentially allow taxi owners to earn approximately $1,200 in revenue for the year to help defray the rising costs of insurance, maintenance, repairs and the cost of purchasing newer vehicles. Attached to the council’s okay was a request to view the proposed advertising carrier prior to final approval.

During the ordinance’s first reading this week, Lyons did not have a sign on hand. He said that the provider, Andy’s Top Lites & Accessories out of Virginia Beach, has a non-returnable policy.

“If I buy it, I’m stuck with it and if you guys tell me I can’t use it, I can’t return it,” he said.

Lyons provided the council with the dimensions of the specific lights Andy’s Top Lites & Accessories provides and there were two sizes available. One was a 54-inch model that was 54 inches in length, 17 inches wide and 16 inches tall. The second was the 39-inch model that was 39 inches in length, 14 inches wide and 15 inches tall.

Lyons pointed out that the town currently has no requirements regarding taxi roof lights and after conducting some research he found many cab company’s roof lights vary in size and color.

“We don’t have consistency now with the roof lights,” he said. “We have people with amber colored lights, some with white lights and we even have one company with purple lights. There are all different sizes.”

Councilman Doug Cymek recognized the opportunity in standardizing taxi’s roof lights and directed the council to consider the possibility of choosing one size so that cabs can become more consistent.

Councilwoman Margaret Pillas made the motion to accept the 39-inch model of the ad carrier for taxis and the council agreed.

Councilman Joe Hall and Council President Jim Hall both asserted that there are some cab companies that are not interested in investing in advertising carriers.

“It would be optional,” Lyons said. “If somebody wanted to do it to take advantage of possible advertising revenue, that would be their option if they didn’t want it they don’t have to.”

Council Secretary Lloyd Martin warned the council that approving the advertising carriers for taxis will open the door for other mobile businesses

“That is a good point this is going to open the advertising on all vehicles,” Jim Hall said.

A few agenda items later, the council also approved a resolution establishing the $1 surcharge. The resolution states that a motor fuel charge of $1 per fare may be charged when the retail cost of motor fuel equals or exceeds $4 per gallon.