OCEAN CITY — In the interest of bolstering a taxi cab industry amid mounting competition, resort officials this week voted to relax some medallion costs and inspection fees.
During last week’s Police Commission meeting, members sent a favorable recommendation to the Mayor and Council to reduce the annual taxi cab medallion renewal fee from the current $500 to $250. The police commission also recommended reducing the annual taxi cab inspection decal fee from the current $150 to $100 with a sliding scale that goes up the later cab companies wait to have their vehicles inspected.
The intent of both measures is to help buoy up the town’s private-sector taxi industry, which in recent years has come under increased pressure from Uber and Lyft, for example. On Monday, the Mayor and Council unanimously approved both recommendations from the police commission.
In 2010, Ocean City adopted a taxi medallion system in an attempt to better regulate the town’s cab industry and as a means to generate revenue. At the peak of the system, there were 175 town-issued tax medallions on the streets in town. The intent was to limit the number of cabs that operate exclusively on the island, eliminate rogue cabs from other areas that showed up during peak times and add stronger regulations in the interest of public safety.
Nine years later, the number of active, privately-held taxi cab medallions now stands at 124, perhaps indicative of the changing transportation climate in the resort. The reduction of the annual medallion fee from $500 to $250 approved on Monday is expected to ease the financial burden on the private sector cab companies, but the change is not entirely a handout, according to Councilman Matt James. “We’re trying to help the cab industry, but it’s not a charity,” he said. “It’s basic economics.”
Council Secretary Mary Knight said residents and visitors rely on the town’s cab system when ride-share programs, such as Uber, for example, aren’t always available.
“In the dead of winter, people really rely on the cabs when the ride-sharing services aren’t readily available,” she said. “It’s a nice service provided in town. I feel strongly about that.”
Also on Monday, the council approved a reduction in the annual inspection fee for cabs from $150 to $100. The inspection fees will go up incrementally as the summer season moves closer.
“It’s an incentive to get people to get their cabs inspected earlier,” said James. “It goes up the later they wait.”