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Published: Friday, 12/27/2013 - Updated: 7 months ago

15 taxi operators changing firms

Yellow Cab gains 33 permits in exodus from Black & White

BY TYREL LINKHORN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

One of Toledo’s taxicab companies is growing, and another has gotten smaller.

A large group of taxicab permit holders has left the city’s largest operator over a dispute about increased fees.

Fifteen operators who hold a total of 33 cab permits requested permission to transfer operation of their permits from Black & White Transportation to Yellow Cab of Toledo.

The city’s Taxicab Review Board approved the request on Thursday at a special meeting.

Tim Hutchison is one of the people switching companies. He said Black & White recently notified drivers the company planned to increase the dispatch fee operators paid from $220 a week to $250 a week come January. Additionally, he said Black & White wanted to increase its cut from noncash customers from 10 percent to 15 percent.

“There’s just a lot of discontent,” said Mr. Hutchison, who has eight cab permits.

Messages left for Scott Potter, Black & White’s owner, at his office weren’t returned on Thursday.

Previously Mr. Potter told The Blade the decision to raise fees was based on such things as insurance rates and the price of gas.

The operators own their cars and hold the city-issued permit that allows them to operate and pay a fee to Black & White for dispatching services.

Mr. Hutchison said the increase in fees would make it hard for him and his drivers to turn a profit.

“Basically Black & White did not believe we had any options ... They didn’t believe we would or could do anything else,” Mr. Hutchison said Thursday. “But we can. It’s going to hurt us and it’s going to take some time, but 50 to 60 days from now, Black & White will no longer be the cab company in Toledo.”

The influx of new cabs will quadruple the size of Yellow Cab of Toledo, which is operated by Transit Now LLC. J.P. Smith, an attorney who represents Yellow Cab of Toledo, said the company previously had 11 vehicles in operation.

Mr. Hutchison said Black & White had 86 owner-operated vehicles until Friday.

It isn’t unusual for a permit holder to switch from one company to another. However, members of the city board that oversees taxicabs said it was unprecedented to see so many requesting a transfer at one time.

Typically, operators who switch aren’t permitted to collect fares until their cars have been painted with the markings of their new company and they have new meters installed, inspected, and sealed.

Because of the number of operators, however, Yellow Cab asked for a variance allowing new operators to temporarily continue using white cars until they all could be painted.

Mr. Hutchison said he thinks some vehicles will have the new meters by Monday, with the rest by the end of next week.

Mr. Smith said the largest taxicab customer in Toledo is the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, and if all operators had to wait to have their cars painted, service would suffer.

“There are a number of people who are expecting rides and won’t get them,” he said.

The three-member city board approved the request, setting a Jan. 17 deadline for the cars to be painted.

Toledo has about 170 licensed cabs.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.



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