Hilton Head, S.C. Officials Question Taxi Licenses

October 31, 2006

Several taxi companies that advertise their services on the Hilton Head, S.C. resort island are not licensed by the town.

That means they don’t get their insurance isn’t verified, their cars don’t go through safety inspections and there’s no guarantee the driver hasn’t been convicted of a felony.

The town also keeps tabs on trip books, rates and driver information.

Licensed taxi companies say the problem is leading to unfair competition in an aggressive market and creating an unsafe situation for passengers.

“It’s a rough industry,” said Gary Adams, owner of Palmetto Taxi, a licensed company. “Some of them don’t have ‘Taxi’ on the hood … some don’t have dome lights. Why are they getting away with stuff like that?”

The town has a list of 14 companies that are approved to pick up people in town limits. Any taxi service that picks up passengers on Hilton Head and is not on the list is operating illegally, town staff said.

Steven Markiw, the town’s deputy finance director, said the town is looking into six complaints received in the past two months. But, he would not discuss those ongoing investigations.

“We do investigate them, and we do bring them into compliance as soon as we can,” Markiw said.

Taxi companies with more than two vehicles have to have an office. The companies must provide the town with information on vehicle registration as well as the name, address and Social Security number of each driver.

The vehicles must have the company name and phone number displayed prominently, post a schedule of rates and have a roof light.

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