Smaller cab companies at disadvantage without "W" number

Reported by Claire Simms - bio|email
Posted by Lauren Thomson - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - "W" numbers are licenses issued by the police department to allow cabs to pick up passengers within city limits.  It's a small sticker, but in Wilmington, it makes a big difference if you're trying to start up a cab company.

Taxi drive Jared Ohern doesn't have a "W" number, but says more are needed in the Wilmington area.

Only 155 "W" numbers exist and Wilmington police say that's more than enough, but Ohern disagrees.

"I've had customer, after customer, after customer say, 'look man, I'm so glad you showed up. We've been waiting here an hour and a half, two hours trying to get a cab,'" said Ohern.

Ohern works for AAA Coastal Taxi, a small company with only two other drivers.

He believes the current "W" permitting system favors large cab businesses and makes it hard for new ones to get up and running.

"Why should I get arrested for trying to take care of my family? What gives them the right to say that we can't work there?" asks Ohern.

A business can hold onto a "W" number until they don't need it anymore, but Ohern says many cab companies don't turn their stickers back in for others which is a real sticking point for new drivers like him.

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