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December 30, 2010

Tipsy? Taxi! spokeswoman: You may have to wait up to 45 minutes for your cab

When it was announced that the Tipsy? Taxi! service would return to Baltimore on New Year's Eve, several readers responded with complaints.

Even though the service is free on New Year's Eve, they said some cab drivers insisted on charging in the past. While other readers said the cabs are consistently late, and that the 1-877-963-TAXI number used for the service is always busy.

Well, AAA Mid-Atlantic, one of the sponsors of the service, reached out both to Midnight Sun and Sun blog Consuming Interests to respond.

My colleague Liz Kay has an update on those complaints here. Essentially, AAA spokeswoman Ragina Averella urges patience.

But here's a couple of other things she told me.

The service is never going to be as quick as hailing a cab, Averella said. That's because even though there will be 500 cabs working for Yellow/Checker Cab New Year's Eve, the company will also be conducting their regular business.

As a result, "the expected wait time is 30-45 minutes" for Tipsy Taxi, she said. In other words, plan accordingly.

Patrons should also expect wait times to reach the service's operators, Averella said. Yellow Cab only has two employees at their call center to answer Tipsy Taxi calls. However, she pointed out, the 1-877-963-TAXI number is used only for this service. 

"At times, it can ring busy, especially at peak times, when bars are closing," Averella says. "If a caller receives a busy signal, we encourage them to call back and not hang up if they are placed on hold."

As for the complaints that some cab drivers insist on charging, Averella points out that those wishing to take advantage of Tipsy Taxi must call in advance for a pick-up, not just hail any random Yellow or Checker cab. 

Scheduled pick-ups will always be free, and if a cab driver still insists on charging, Averella urged patrons to call Yellow Cab at 443-573-3416 to file a complaint.

Again, these are some of the service's other caveats: it's only open to those over 21; patrons must be picked up at a city bar and taken only to their homes; and patrons will pay the balance of rides exceeding $50. (Averella said it's only open to adults because the sponsors "don't want to encourage underage drinking.")

Calling ahead for a cab and having to wait 45 minutes for it to arrive might have discouraged people from using the service before; Averella said between only nearly 100 people used it New Year's Eve 2009.

But, she pointed out the service is a only supplement to existing public transportation options available to impaired drivers.

Readers are right to be upset by this, considering that those free rides from the MTA and the Charm City Circulator only last until 2 a.m. and 1 a.m., respectively, even though bars are likely staying open until dawn. Still, it's also important to remember that it is a free service. 

Averella said that if riders have other problems with the service, they can call her directly at 410-616-1900, ext 61152, or Yellow Cab general manager Dwight Kines at 443-573-3416. 

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Posted by Erik Maza at 5:08 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: News


"between only nearly 100 people" - ??

Grammar aside, maybe the reason they only had 100 people use the service was because THEY ONLY HAD 2 PEOPLE ANSWERING THE PHONES.

Now it's all starting to make sense.

If the government were truly serious about reducing drunk driving, they would exempt taxicab licensing requirements on holidays to allow any licensed driver with a legally registered car who is willing to work to put themselves out for hire. It is impossible for the taxicab industry to stay profitable year round employing a sufficient number of drivers to handle these max-load holidays.

Government regulation of the taxicab industry creates inflexibility of supply, reduces supply, raises prices, and ultimately discourages, or makes impossible, use of a taxicab. The unintended consequence of such regulation is increased drunk driving.

@Josh Dowlut: You have used the logically fallacy of cum hoc ergo propter hoc.

You can not argue that because there are regulations in place to ensure public safety that the result is "increased drunk driving".

Simply, on nights where there is significantly increased business, the cab companies should employ an "all hands on deck" philosophy". It's what bars, restaurants, police, tow truck drivers, etc., all those affected by the increased festivities do.

The concept of allowing any random with a license to drive other randoms around places the driver and the passengers at significant risk. The drivers are liable, and there is no guarantee that just because someone has a valid driver’s license that he/she is a safe person.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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