Ocean City Looks To Reduce Fees To Help Ailing Cab Industry

Ocean City Looks To Reduce Fees To Help Ailing Cab Industry
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OCEAN CITY – An effort to reduce certain fees associated with Ocean City’s taxi cab medallion system will move forward to the full Mayor and Council with a favorable recommendation from a resort committee.

On Monday, the Ocean City Police Commission voted unanimously to forward a favorable recommendation to the Mayor and Council to lower medallion fees to $50 and reduce medallion transfer fees to $100.

“I think we’d do better to just reduce the fees and keep the system,” Mayor Rick Meehan told committee members this week.

In 2010, Ocean City implemented a tax cab medallion system in an effort to regulate the local taxi industry. Not only did it limit the number of cabs that could operate in town, but added measures such as cab inspections to ensure public safety.

“Back in the day, if you recall, the taxi industry was a wild, wild west and we started to regulate taxi cabs for the public purpose of trying to control the number of taxis in town because that was the transportation system above and beyond the buses,” City Manager Doug Miller said this week, “and then also to ensure public safety in that the vehicles they were getting into were safe.”

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Late last month, however, the Mayor and Council began considering an overhaul of the resort’s taxi medallion system. At its peak the resort issued 175 taxi medallions, but that number has dwindled in recent years in response to the proliferation of ride-sharing platforms like Uber and Lyft.

Anecdotally, Council President Matt James told commission members this week the value of medallions had dropped so low one operator had handed off all his medallions to the councilman.

“We are now in this environment where Uber and Lyft have pretty much decimated the industry,” Miller noted.

Another topic discussed last month was the fee for transferring a medallion from one cab operator to another. Meehan told commission members this week the fee was initially set at 20% of the medallion sales price, but has since been set at a fixed amount.

In a report this week, City Solicitor Heather Stansbury noted few municipalities regulated taxi companies. She added the jurisdictions that did had set low transfer fees.

“Is our transfer fee a bit high?” she said. “Yes, if you look at other jurisdictions.”

Councilman Lloyd Martin, committee chair, said he supported a fee reduction, but advocated for keeping the medallion system and its associated business license and inspection requirements.

“I think it’s time to move forward with lowering the fees if we can,” he said.

After further discussion, Meehan made a recommendation to reduce the medallion fee to $50 and the transfer fee to $100, and to have the fees set by resolution.

“Leave everything else as is,” he said.

The motions passed 4-0.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.