Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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September 10th, 2010

Does Monticello need more taxicabs?

The Monticello Village Board has eliminated their cap of taxi medallions potentially opening up the field for a host of competition.
Obviously, those who own the two cab companies servicing the Village are against this move, while other individuals wanting to enter into the car service business applaud this decision.
Companies who own taxi medallions in any municipality cherish them as they are valuable pieces of property. In places like New York City they are gold.
Residents in the Village of Monticello, like in the rest of Sullivan County have been going through hard times. Many who live in the Village are on public assistance and simply cannot afford the rates charged for cab rides.
Often the poorest of the poor need to rely on taxi cabs. To pay $15 to go from parts of the Village of Monticello to places like Walmart seems unreasonably high.
Although the Village Board has been a hot bed of political controversy over the past several years, and I have often been critical, I hope the intentions of the board to increase the number of medallions is not an attempt to bust the current providers, but an attempt to lower costs so people who have little money can be transported.
Several years ago I received a phone call from a taxi provider from outside of Monticello, and he was upset that they could not pick up customers in the Village because they were not licensed there even though they were a legitimate company. I was surprised to learn of the rules and requirements for medallions in the Village of Monticello.
I am fully sympathetic to the concerns of the current providers and they must equally be addressed and considered by the Village of Monticello.
The people who own both companies are good people and their commitment to Sullivan County is understated. Their profit margins have been at a minimum, while their costs have skyrocketed.
Equally, the demand for cab service is dwindling, and drivers are paid on commission only. There is no base wage, and their income is dependent on the people they transport.
Obviously, competition and free enterprise can mean lower prices, but one also has to wonder at what cost.
To Village Trustee Carmen Rue, the vote in favor means eliminating public safety requirements governing taxi medallions, “and inviting anarchy and surrendering the government’s responsibility to ensure safe public transportation for the residents of the Village.”
Rue may be just in her comments, but nonetheless, the entire Village of Monticello Board has the power over licensing and inspection of cabs to ensure their safety.
The board is also in control of fare hikes. Questioning how on one hand the board can complain fares are too high and additional medallions would decrease fares when they approved them in the first place. Is this really an attempt to bust up the current two cab companies?
This added piece of controversy is something the Village does not need. Unfortunately, it appears the courts will be getting involved, costing taxpayers even more in legal fees.

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