Council considers limit on taxi companies operating in city

At a committee meeting on Tuesday, several members of the common council said they are in favor of placing a limit on the number of taxi cab companies that are allowed to pick up customers in the city. At the meeting, the council heard from Madeline Samson of the taxi cab company Yellow Transportation, who complained that the number of taxi companies operating within the city has risen over the past few years and questioned whether companies based outside Montgomery County were paying their sales tax properly.

Police Chief Greg Culick confirmed that there are currently 11 taxi companies registered with the city. He said as many as six of them were based outside the city.

“I just think that’s a lot. And I don’t know if they’re paying what they should be paying,” said Samson. “The ones out of Fulton County, where are they paying their sales tax? Montgomery County? If they’re taking your money, they should be paying it in Montgomery County.”

Alderman Ed Russo expressed agreement with Samson’s sentiment.

There was no evidence presented at the meeting that any taxi cab company had failed to pay sales tax due to Montgomery County.

Alderman Jim Martuscello suggested a cap of five taxi companies, while allowing the current eleven companies to continue to operate. The target cap would eventually be met as companies left or went out of business.

“We have our own transportation department,” added Martuscello. “We’re cutting our own throats by letting all these cab companies come in and making money. And yet we’re trying to survive and keep our heads above water with the bus and transportation department. It’s foolish for us to let anybody in here.”

Aldermam Chad Majewski also agreed with the limit and suggested adding additional requirements for licensed cab companies, requiring 24 hour service, and having an office in the city.

Majewski pointed out that the recent legalization by New York State of ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, could force some of the current cab companies out of business.

Currently, the city code requires a license for any taxi company who picks up customers within the city, as well as a license for each driver, and a license for each vehicle. Under the charter, the council can limit the number of vehicle licenses by resolution, but there is no current provision for limiting the number of companies.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.