Palm Beach County considers steeper fees for cab companies

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - When you want a cab or limousine in Palm Beach County, hundreds of companies can answer your call. In fact, Palm Beach County has more cabs than Miami-Dade or Broward counties. Now the Palm Beach County Commission is looking at raising the fees it charges vehicle for hire companies to help regulate them.

"It's ludicrous to have this many cab," said Palm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aronson.

Looking for a cab? Palm Beach County has more than 600 vehicle for hire companies and says it doesn't have enough money to regulate them all. Now, an advisory committee to the commission has put together a resolution. If it passes, new vehicle for hire companies would have to pay a one-time $5,000 start-up fee. Renewal fees for all cab and limo companies would more than double to $225 and driver ID and decal fees would also go up.

Cab companies are at odds over whether this will help or hurt their businesses.

Cullan Meathe operates Yellow Cab. With more than 200 cabs here, his is the largest vehicle for hire company in Palm Beach County. He thinks the new fees will help, but feels the commission fell short by not requiring cabs to accept credit cards.

"With the times, credit cards must be accepted in the back of vehicles. They do it in every major metropolis. Why not Palm Beach County?" he asked.

Without the opportunity to raise fares, some smaller cab operators, like Allyn Pier, who operates Pier 1 Limousine, fear it will be a death knell for business.

"The idea that the company, the amount paid by the company is increased abnormally relative to the number of cars rewards large companies," Pier said.

Still others, like Lorna Smith of Imperial Transportation, say the new fees will mean fewer new cab companies to compete with.

"My business has no resale value because we have so many businesses that are being started out there," she told commissioners.

Some ideas did not make it into the proposal, including having all cab companies accept credit cards and having drivers follow a dress code.

The Palm Beach County Commission will have a first reading on the plan for the fees and start-up costs for new companies on November 1.

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