OCEAN CITY — In an attempt to boost a lagging cab industry, resort officials this week voted on first reading to significantly reduce the fees for taxi medallions.
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. The intent was to limit the number of cabs that operate exclusively on the island, eliminate rogue cab companies from other areas that showed up during peak times and add stronger regulations including inspections in the interest of public safety.
At the peak of the system, there were 175 town-issued taxi medallions on the streets in town. Now, the number has dwindled to 106, largely because of changes in the industry and the proliferation of ride-share platforms such as Uber and Lyft, for example.
In May, the discussion about adjusting the fees for taxi medallions began at the Police Commission level. The commission took up the debate again last week and sent a favorable recommendation to the full Mayor and Council to significantly reduce the fees for the medallions, which have seen their values drop in the face of still competition from Uber and Lyft, for example.
The council had before it on Monday an ordinance on first reading to amend the “vehicles for hire” chapter in the town code related to taxi medallion fees. The ordinance calls for reducing the medallion fee from the current $250 to $50.
The ordinance introduced on Monday will also reduce the taxi medallion transfer fee significantly. The transfer fee between one operator to another used to be a percentage of the original cost of the medallion, but the transfer fee has since been lowered as the demand for the medallions has waned.
As a result, the ordinance proposed on first reading on Monday will reduce the medallion transfer fee from $1,000 to just $100. The council approved the ordinance on first reading with no discussion.
The ordinance also addressed the potential suspension or revocation of a taxi medallion for a variety of reasons. Suspensions and revocations, as they have from the beginning, will be handled by the police commission, but the ordinance approved on first reading on Monday adds an appeal process before the full Mayor and Council. The appeal process would be similar to the process any other business license suspension would go through with the purview of the Mayor and Council and the city manager.