Brunswick County recently had a problem: taxi drivers weren't charging their passengers enough. Licensed taxi companies from New Hanover County complained that they couldn't compete with Leland's unregulated jitney brigade - never mind the fact that they have to travel several miles one way just to reach Leland. Brunswick County now regulates taxi fares, which is sure to cost travelers more.
According to police chief Osey Sanders, "It's not fair to legitimate taxi companies to let the gypsy cabs roam free." Why? And how do you define "legitimate" against "illegitimate"?
As was the case in the recent roadside shrimp scare -- it's for everyone's safety! Sanders told the Star News that "it might not be safe for customers". So based on this unsupported bit of hand-waving, Leland concluded that it had to require taxi companies and drivers to get an annual business license to operate in town. For that, "the police department must inspect the cab, it must be metered and have insurance, and its driver must have satisfactory driving and criminal records."
What's odd about this is that every driver has to be insured by law anyway, whether driving a cab or not; and having a "satisfactory" driving and criminal record is also required of drivers. "Unsatisfactory" records might include DWI or Driving While Revoked convictions; convictions for which drivers would already lose the ability to drive, at least to some degree.
So the only real change is having the police inspect the vehicles. But the question is: inspect them for what? The state already inspects vehicles. We get that done every year. What exactly is Leland's proposal doing that the vast bureaucracy of the DMV isn't doing already? Besides costing entrepreneurs a lot of money on wasteful bureaucratic exercises?
But at least Leland is Doing Something. And the result is that passengers will now pay a "causeway fee" of $15 for taxis coming over the bridge from Wilmington. No matter how short the trip from point to point within Leland, if the cab has to come over the bridge, a $15 fee will be added. Small wonder then that of the 34 permits issued in the last month, most have come from Wilmington companies.