That could be the game changer!

By Don McCurdy

Reports are that Ocean City Maryland is discussing lowering the medallion fess on taxicabs from $500 to a mere $250. It appears that Uber and Lyft have siphoned off some of the taxicab’s business and the city is looking for a way to “level the playing field.”

Inspection fees also seem to be a concern with a sliding scale depending on how late you are getting your taxicab inspected. It would seem to me that if you thought taxicab inspections were important it wouldn’t be advisible to let them be late to inspection.

I question the value of a once a year inspection to begin with, based on the mileage a taxicab normally travels in a year’s time.

Further, why is there any fee to operate a medallion? Being a veteran of city periodic taxicab inspections, I can tell you that they have little to do with the safety of the vehicles on the street. Borrowing spare tires, seats and a can of freon for the AC really doesn’t do much for what happens the other 364 days a year.

The city, and the cab riding public would be better served by a roving taxicab inspector and some mystery shoppers. I guess it depends on if you want to achieve a goal or look good which I guess can be a goal.


“It’s too late, baby now, it’s too late…”

A recent article out of Boston lamented that the state has collected a nickel a ride from Uber et al and has yet to spend any of it on anything except consultants. What, you gave the government money and they haven’t used it for its intended purpose? Sounds a little like Social Security.

The collected nickels are reported to have added up to $3.2 million. That figures to be right around 64 million rides the taxicab industry has lost in the period of collections. The state hasn’t contributed one of those nickels to do anything for the taxicab industry except hire a consultant. Who says the government doesn’t create jobs.


What would you expect?

Reports are that Auntie Maxine cut the line at the Reagan National taxicab waiting area with 100 people reported as waiting. What, no limo?

It has long been my contention that the concept of a “public servant” is a misnomer and they should really be referred to as the “ruling class.”

Ever since the “Rebellion of the Serfs” in 2016, the DC elites have done a lot more to show who they really are and what they expect us to swallow. Cutting the taxi line is small potatoes.


“Another one bites the dust.”

Reports are that Yellow Cab of Oklahoma City has ceased operations after 75 years. A Facebook post by one of the employees is reported to have said that “poor customer service” was a potential issue.

Ya think? I am in a service business. There are multiple companies in my area that provide the same type of service, some cheaper, some more expensive. Service is what counts.

While Uber’s presence on the scene creates some serious issues, there has been a slow decline in the taxicab industry way before Uber, Lyft and their brethren arrived on the scene to attack the heretofore protected beast the taxicab industry had become.



The number of professionally acting drivers has been dwindling fast as companies and regulators alike protect the “newest New Yorkers.” Taxicab driving, as a profession, passed its prime decades ago. Now, we’re excited to ride with amateurs in unmarked cars for a few pennies less. I wonder if the dinosaurs of the taxicab industry will result in huge oil deposits.


Stand by me.

Any regular reader of this column knows I am not a big fan of government regulation of business. Yes, some are necessary, but unfortunately most are not.

When the Uber/Lyft phenomenon burst upon the scene the recently sold medallion’s value predictably tanked. The city then got sued by the bank who had fronted the loans on the now nearly valueless medallions.

In an effort to shore up the value of the worthless junk they sold the city through the transit authority, they disallowed the medallion holders in service prior to the medallion sales to serve the airport.

The new rules are reported to have taken effect February first. The inevitable lawsuit has now been filed to prevent these new rules.

While I see the need of the city to try to bury their mistake, it was their mistake. Now they want the older medallion holders to suck it up and accept second class status. This might just be the low down dirtiest stunt I’ve seen pulled in the industry. Can’t get enough good government.


“If I can dream of a better land…”

I recently read an opinion piece out of New York touting a $15,000 annual fee for vehicles for hire that operate in the central business district of New York City. The estimated prize would be around $1 billion in revenue.

The suggestion also has the added bonus of reducing traffic congestion. Wow, a win, win proposition. I hate to be a downer at somebody’s party, but the chances of any of that happening are about zero.

First off, Uber has bought a lot of friends and they’re not going to just let this pipe dream slide on through. If there was such a fee associated with the use of the central business district there would be a bunch more pedestrians.

While it would be a boon for the taxicab industry, since no Uber drivers would be willing to pay $15k a year to operate in the central business district, the billion dollar revenue would be an empty promise.

While I can sympathize with the medallion owners plight since Uber burst on the scene I don’t see this dog learning to hunt.


What’s in a paint job?

There have been various reports of criminals posing as Uber drivers and robbing, or worse, unsuspecting riders. The recent murder of a coed in South Carolina has brought the issue to the fore in dramatic fashion.

While taxicabs have huge phone numbers, vehicle numbers, company names and most often matching paint schemes, it was easy to tell your taxicab from any vehicle on the street. Not so with Uber.

Their discreet, removable markings make them easy to impersonate and thereby a much more dangerous option for the vulnerable. Were I Uber, I would be looking for ways to make Uber vehicles more noticeable and definitive.

I guess we could all hope for better trained customers who would ask who the driver was there for, the client’s full name and destination, rather than asking if they’re here for Susie. I’m totally amazed that some shrewd attorney hasn’t sued Uber for failing to properly identify their vehicles.


I gave at the office.

Indicators are that Uber is set to IPO before this column hits the streets. Having been following their progress for the years they’ve existed, I have been quite amazed at some of the markets they’ve managed to crack. While I am a firm believer in the GPS technology that drives Uber, I am somewhat dismayed at the number of Uber haters there are on this earth.

While they’re getting sued in nearly ever jurisdiction they’re in, they continue to knock heads needlessly on issues they should be embracing, like background checks.

I’ve heard they’re going to be a highly valued IPO, but I just can’t want to invest in a company that’s never made money and can’t seem to get out of their own way.

Some of their mistakes have been so obvious you have to wonder why they didn’t poach a few top taxi industry executives to help them avoid some of the more obvious land mines. I guess I just can’t forget the joys of the tech bubble and its influence on my finances.


If you have any comments regarding this or any of my articles please feel free to contact me at: – dmc