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Posted on Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor might crack down on unlicensed taxicabs after reported student rape

By Ryan J. Stanton

Ann Arbor officials are talking about cracking down on unlicensed taxicabs after the reported rape of a female University of Michigan student by a cab driver early Sunday.

City Council Member Stephen Kunselman, speaking as chairman of the city's Taxicab Board and the father of two teenage daughters in college, raised the issue at Monday night's council meeting.

"It's imperative that our city police department start showing some enforcement of our taxicab ordinance and start pulling over limos with top lights that are basically impersonating taxicabs," he said. "I don't know what other actions can be done other than start enforcing our ordinance."


Stephen Kunselman said some companies are "flouting the law" and "trying to beat the system" while "trolling for fares in our downtown" without a taxicab license from the city.

Ryan J. Stanton | file photo

Mayor John Hieftje said he appreciated Kunselman's remarks.

"Perhaps we could have the city attorney's office look into that to see if we could enforce that," Hieftje said, getting a nod of support from City Attorney Stephen Postema.

Kunselman said there is some ambiguity in the state law. He said the city is trying to get it clarified to make it clear it's unlawful for anyone to impersonate a taxi by using so-called "top lights." But for now, he doesn't see why the city can't take action under existing local ordinance.

"There's some language in our existing ordinance that specifies what a top light can be used for in terms of on top of a vehicle — basically what we all expect a taxi to use," he said. "We amended our taxicab ordinance to basically start writing tickets for limos that impersonate taxis by driving around with top lights on their vehicles, but with no taxicab license issued by the city."

Kunselman said he's going to start asking for monthly reports from the Ann Arbor Police Department at Taxicab Board meetings regarding what enforcement activities are taking place.

Ann Arbor police Lt. Renee Bush said police are investigating Sunday's reported rape as third-degree criminal sexual conduct, which involves penetration.

Bush said the woman described the cab as a car but it’s unclear what company the cab came from and if it was a taxi licensed by the city or a limousine service licensed by the state.

The woman got in the cab alone at 2 a.m. in the 1200 block of South University, and she told police the rape took place in a parking lot near the 300 block of East Madison near Packard Street.

The woman was treated at the University of Michigan Hospital’s emergency room and police were sent there after the incident was reported, Bush said. The only available description of the driver describes him as a white man with short hair, possibly brown.

The city licenses more than 100 taxicabs and more than 200 taxi drivers, but there are many limousine companies allowed to impersonate cabs due to the Limousine Transportation Act.

That law allowed any vehicle with a seating capacity of 15 or less to be classified as a limousine and is licensed through the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Kunselman gave two examples of state-licensed limo companies that are using top lights to look like taxicabs in Ann Arbor, even though they're not licensed by the city.

"One is the Michigan Green Cab and the other is Yellow Car," he said. "They are avoiding our taxicab ordinance and, as far as I'm concerned, we need to out them."

Kunselman said he believes those companies are "flouting the law" and "trying to beat the system" while "trolling for fares in our downtown."

A manager for Michigan Green Cab could not be reached Monday night, but a manager for Ann Arbor Yellow Car spoke with by phone after the council meeting.

Alex Persu, director of call center operations for Yellow Car, said the city would be going after the wrong people if it cracked down on a licensed limo company like Yellow Car, which he said has been doing business in Ann Arbor since the 1930s.

Persu said the bigger issue is what's infamously known in local taxicab circles as the "scabs" — the taxicabs that come into Ann Arbor on busy weekend nights from places like Detroit.

"That's kind of frustrating to us and other local companies when these out-of-towners come on busy nights and pick up students. We wish the city would do more about them," he said.

Persu said sometimes those "scabs" will be marked with an actual company name, but other times they'll be unmarked — they'll just have a top light on their roof. He said students often don't question hopping in those vehicles after a long night out on the town, especially when it's cold out, and he's heard a number of firsthand complaints from students who have been overcharged by them.

"Everybody sees them all over," he said. "We call each other all the time (and say): 'The scabs are out tonight.' People know about them."

Yellow Car formerly operated under the name Yellow Cab with taxicabs licensed by the city, but it changed and became licensed as a limousine company through the state in May 2011.

The company still has a fleet of about 50 cars that look just like normal taxicabs, and on any given night 20 or more of them are out in Ann Arbor, Persu said, noting the company also has a fleet of black Lincoln town cars, stretch and super-stretch limos and a party bus.

One of the reasons cited for why some taxicab companies might prefer being licensed by the state as a limousine company instead is because of reduced insurance costs.

Persu said another reason is because Yellow Car, now that it's no longer licensed by the city of Ann Arbor, doesn't have to adhere to the Taxicab Board's strict regulations regarding fare rates. He said the city wouldn't let the rates fluctuate or keep pace with changing gas prices.

"As a limo company, we can go up and down with the rates," he said. "The part that our customers like a lot is that we give flat rates over the phone. We don't run a meter. Our prices are based on point-to-point using Google maps that anyone on the phone with us can Google-map themselves."

Kunselman said there are good reasons why the city wants taxicabs to be licensed and on record with the city, though.

"The importance of a well-regulated taxi fleet is that we as a community know who the drivers are and that we're not getting into the car with a stranger," he said.

"Without that, we don't know who these drivers are. We don't know who these strangers are coming into our community, and I think it's time that we do something about it."

Persu suggested it's far-fetched to call Yellow Car a stranger after being in Ann Arbor for many years and being the sole operator of the city's A-Ride transit service for people with disabilities.

"Our requirements for drivers to drive for us are much more stringent than a taxicab company," he added. "We turn down a lot of people because of background checks or points on their license."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 9:34 a.m.

So it seems to me that most obvious aspect which would ease all concerns is a bit overlooked. What about a professional license which must be placed in the front windshield of the car or on the side of the car? Either at a local or state level. It would mean that all drives of both limos and taxis entering the city for pickup would have to adhere to. It means that the taxi licenses could still be issued to taxis and these new licenses would insure that people, including law enforcement, could easily identify they are in compliance. Make the price reasonable that no one could complain about. Even if it does not have the same rules of enforcement for obtaining a taxi driver's license, it would certainly make an impact on the system. One would hope that all companies are doing a background check on their employees and focusing on the important aspects such as crimes of a sexual nature, recurrent drug abuse, and theft. As no business would want to open themselves up to legal recriminations from hiring the wrong person anyway. Obviously, there is still the aspect of how long ago such things happened, as there is still the Prodigal son aspect we should all consider, so a limitation of 5 years or so might be good. One offense might mean nothing, while repeated offenses would. What happens then, is that the city gets the taxes to offset the operations they provide. This is reasonable, as the people who are taking advantage of the services should shoulder the cost more. The drivers are easily recognized as being in compliance with statutes, the police can better monitor those who are not in compliance, citizen trust increases, and the business can chose which model they wish to operate under. In defense of Yellow Car, they have been in the area a long time with history. They have to obey Federal Statutes in hiring their drivers because of the A-Ride program. They maintain their fleet very well! They respond to complaints. They are GPS tracked.


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 9:10 p.m.

I am rather discussed by the response of the City Council with regards to this issue. It is a complete fallacy to use the tragic assaults on these young women as a platform for enforcing taxi-cab legislation. What does the manner in which a taxi/cab is registered have to do with the assaults that are taking place, regardless of if the car is registered with the state the city or some other governing body the assaults still occurred and I think it is a terrible reflection of the true interests of the city, money. It is ironic the way in which things turned out, as noted by Kunselman, "The importance of a well-regulated taxi fleet is that we as a community know who the drivers are and that we're not getting into the car with a stranger," "Without that, we don't know who these drivers are. We don't know who these strangers are coming into our community, and I think it's time that we do something about it." According to a story from channel four, a student has identified the assaults as taking place in a blue cab, which to the best of my knowledge is registered with the city. So what again for the reason for these cabs registering through the city as opposed to registering with the State, which may I remind you, is legal. Other than the fact that the city doesn't get the money for the taxi licensees, I see no difference. I think it is time for a real response from the city, one that is relevant. As for the response by Kunselman, I am ashamed to be living in a city that supports this time of response for a tragic incident such as this from its city council. At least one truth has been revealed, if you want to know the truth, follow the money.

Bill P

Sat, Feb 9, 2013 : 2:28 p.m.

Note: The following comments are my own, and not necessarily those of Michigan Green Cabs Ann Arbor or any other persons or entities. I have been working with Michigan Green Cabs since shortly after its founding in 2008. I spent a year as a driver, and have been dispatching since. This is a company I am proud to be working with. Michigan Green Cabs, which is chartered and regulated by the State of Michigan, provides clean, comfortable, and environmentally responsible point-to-point transportation for a large number of people and companies in Washtenaw and Oakland Counties. We strive to provide superior customer service, from the initial phone call or web submission to the final drop off, and have gained the trust and respect of a number of major clients, including most major hotels in Ann Arbor and Oakland County. We look for drivers with professional attitudes, and we take our role in serving all segments of the communities seriously. Our late-model hybrids are cleaned and detailed frequently, and repaired quickly and completely. We utilize evolving technology to try to get passengers their vehicle when they want it. Unfortunately, at times, this is not possible. Nor is it economically feasible to maintain a fleet large enough to provide perfect service. To attack by association a company which IS providing superior service to Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti is misguided. I would hope that certain individuals could look at the big picture and focus on what is best for the visitors, residents, institutions, and commerce of Ann Arbor rather than attack people who are doing good for the community, doing it legally and responsibly, and providing much needed jobs.

Elliott Snow

Sat, Feb 9, 2013 : 11:13 p.m.

It's also worth noting that as I understand it, the owner of the Ann Arbor Michigan Green Cabs is a local resident who lives right in town. It seems particularly unfair that Mr. Kunselman cites 2 locally owned transportation companies as part of the problem, and completely overlooks what is actually happening - out-of-town limos and cabs poaching in Ann Arbor especially on weekends, who often do not comply with either State law or local Ann Arbor ordinances. Locally owned and operated companies who provide safe and ethical transportation services to our community really deserve better than to be characterized as"impersonators" who are "flouting the law". Yellow Car needs "to be OUTED"??? Please! These are falsehoods. Mr.Kunselman should do some due diligence about what the real problems are instead of buying into the lines of some of the the whiners who attend Cab Board meetings. And then attack the correct targets, instead of backstabbing any of Ann Arbor's own long-standing, contributing, and tax-paying local businesses.

Marcus Watt

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 6:16 p.m.

As a yellow car driver, I can assure you that the problem with out of town impersonators is real and a continuous problem. On any given thurs/fri/sat night you can see them. I had one customer tell me that they (husband and wife) took a taxi from Grizzly Peak to Wall St by the UofM hospital and were charged $35. Obviously a scam. Yellow car not only gives you the price up front but they have a GPS tracking system for each and every car in real time. Also, they have stricter MDOT requirements for drivers. Including thorough background checks and random drug/alcohol screenings with zero tolerance. This is certainly a case of out of town taxi impersonation. What can be done? First of all, you fine, incarcerate, and confiscate the vehicles of those that come from out of town without legitimate limo/taxi licensing. One week of intense enforcement and the word would go out. Stay out of Ann Arbor.

Fred Pettit

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 3:56 a.m.

Only in Ann Arbor could something like this be that hard to figure out. Shouldn't take that much discussion. It's not rocket science people. We're talking about taxi's here but the mayor and council will assemble a group of 12 of their favorite octogenarians to figure this out as a committee. Good luck!

J. Zarman

Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

Council Member Kunselman, you owe us some answers. When residents and visitors to Ann Arbor phone in to report solicitation for fares by unlicensed firms or vehicles (see Skyjockey43's account in an earlier comment), why do Ann Arbor Police dispatchers tell callers that they will not be responding or investigating? Evidently, they do not record or keep the descriptions and accounts that had been phoned in. I enjoy coming into Ann Arbor to shop and dine. But this city-endorsed lack of police response makes me think twice. I question Council Member Kunselman's leadership of the Taxicab Board.

Bank Rearden

Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 12:21 p.m.

The Taxi Board is a joke! They pass an ordinance saying that you can't have the word "taxi or cab" on a limo, but allow Michigan Green Cab to operate in AA! They refuse to give licensed cabs a place to park outside of the bars and then ticket us for picking up someone who chooses NOT to drink and drive; they call it impeding traffic! All commercial vehicles are supposed to be clearly identified with large lettering and include a phone number. The City of AA simply has no desire to have legitimate cab service operating here! A cabbie used to be able to make a living if he drove 12 hours a day/6 days a week, without health insurance. Those days are gone!

Joslyn at the U

Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 1:43 a.m.

Kudos good points

Fat Bill

Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 3:44 a.m.

How about the city getting out of the price fixing business and simply let competition regulate the rates? The city can charge what it needs to background check drivers and inspect cabs...everybody wins...


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 11:25 a.m.

I would agree, criminal background checks for anyone operating a limo or taxi ( which is already required) in this city.

Basic Bob

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 11:47 p.m.

Why is it acceptable to refer to these limousines as "gypsy" cabs? Would it be OK to call them "Indian" cabs?

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 11:59 p.m. whine drive cab on nightshift in a2+you will see aapd will frame,cite you+commit pejury while turning a blind eye to the gypsy cabs.


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 5:54 a.m.

Cornelius: I believe the problem is that most taxis/limos are too lazy to pull to the curb to pick up and (especially) drop off passengers. Instead, they simply slam on the brakes without even pulling two inches towards the curb and block everybody behind them while they negotiate a deal.

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 12:12 a.m.

furthermore in new york city police will cite a driver for not stopping to pick up a flagdown.(this was not always the case harlem residents complained they were past up for uptown residents wich led to nyc"equal flagdown policy"however AAPD cites taxis for picking up a hailer.they claim its 'BLOCKING TRAFFIC'

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 12:06 a.m.

the term originated in nyc.legit cabs refused to service "problamatic locales"ie harlem,bronx,hells kitchen etc."brave?"drivers would get a navy blue chevy caprice+people would negotiate rides for flat rates.theese drivers had a much higher mortality rate than the"yellow"cabs who paid $1000000 for a nyc medallian.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 11:22 p.m.

Hmm. >Might< crack down? No. Bad PR answer. Ann Arbor WILL crack down on illigitamate cabs because of a Student rape. Hell, while you're at it, Crack down on RAPE.

L. C. Burgundy

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 10:12 p.m.

Up to 15 occupants in a vehicle can be classified as a limo service!? This scourge of high-capacity assault taxi/limo service must be stopped and I call the government to act on this. Why would anyone need more than 5 or 6 people in one limo?

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 11:31 p.m.

david gregory gives you a thumbs up.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 9:27 p.m.

And, BTW, if the city DOES decide to crack down and the effort is effective to the point of limiting the available supply of taxis and limos, the safety effect is very likely to be negative, because cars will be harder to find and more expensive and so more intoxicated students will end up walking home from bars in the early morning hours. We have a LOT more cases of students assaulted when walking home at 2 AM than by sketchy cab or limo drivers (in fact, does anybody know of other instances besides this one?)


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 9:10 p.m.

I would hope that the victim is telling the truth, there have been more false reports of sexual assault than have actually taken place around here. I can't believe that is reporting all these accusations before anybody has even been accused.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 8:25 p.m.

I kind of wish the article was titled "Ann Arbor might not crack down on unlicensed taxicabs in the city following reported student rape", which would have been equally as true yet more attention-grabbing.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 7:21 p.m.

"As a limo company, we can go up and down with the rates," he said. Has anyone actually seen the rates go DOWN when gas prices are lower? I doubt it.

Joslyn at the U

Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 1:40 a.m.

I have :)


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 7:19 p.m.

"Might" crack down?????


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 6:28 p.m.

My heart goes out to the victim of this terrible crime.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 6:04 p.m.

I think this is a no-brainer...I work downtown, and see many of these non-city licensed limos stalking people for fares. I had the unfortunate experience of taking one because the cab company I usually use, Yellow Car, was way busy. It cost me 5 dollars more for the same ride I usually take, and the guy driving it was pretty sketchy. I say lets get rid of these other limos. They are a bad entity.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 6:46 p.m.

So the company YOU like decided to move away from the city regulation system and go with the state system. But you want the city to get rid of other companies YOU don't like which are licensed and regulated in exactly the same way. How is that going to work? Yellow Car is also one of the "other" "non-city licensed limos" you refer to.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 6:29 p.m.

" non-city licensed limos stalking people " by "stalking" you mean make their presence known as an option? They don't actually stalk people. ______________________ " the cab company I usually use, Yellow Car, was way busy. " If I'm reading the story correctly Yellow Car is no longer a licensed "cab company" they are now a " non-city licensed limo' stalker...errrr......service.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 4:42 p.m.

I drove for both a cab company and licensed limo company. 98% of my rides as both cab and limo came from calls prearranged through the company I drove for. Not walk ups. At the limo company I drove for we were not "trolling" around for rides. I was too busy getting appt rides.


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 2:17 a.m.

Dugster's last reply is right on the mark. I drive for YC all the time, usually in the same car, and I'd have to be crazy to try to get away with something. It's a one-on-one business, 99% customer service, and our dependability is all we've got.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 10:49 p.m.

Paul, you're right. My parents taught me better than that. I just hope the police catch the guy and catch him quick. One bad cab/limo driver can ruin it for everyone. My bet is on an out of town cab/limo driver because whether you work for Yellow Car(limo) or Blue Cab(cab) if you are local it's just a matter of time before you're caught. I don't believe any cab company would put with it's drivers doing this kind of act but it would be a lot easier to get caught if you are driving for a local company than one from out of town the the local police don't know.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 7:37 p.m.

Yes but you were not out looking to assault somebody. I got the feeling the "cab" just pulled up alongside of her walking alone at 2 am. People like this need to be stop, who else has he harmed ? Best part is, he is still loose on the streets


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 5:32 p.m.

Youwhine; I parked the car while waiting for a call from my dispatcher. With the price of gas it was to expensive to just drive around until my next call. Again 98% of the time I would get called away from my parking spot by a call from my dispatcher not someone hailing from the curb. I'm sure that's why the other cabs were parked.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 5:20 p.m.

Dugster so true. I can call Yellow Car in advance and get an appointment for a pickup to the train station etc to plan my trip. When I call a cab, I get the "call back the day of your trip and we'll see what's available" message. I had arranged with a local cab to pick me up at the train station from the 11:30pm Chicago train...and they did NOT show up! Pretty scary to be left high and dry.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 5:12 p.m.

If you drove in A2, you were in the minority. Go down to Maynard, Church, South U, Liberty or Main St in the vening. You will see that there are tons of cabs and limos just out trolling and parking in the middle of the street near the bars, waiting for somebody to hail them. And it is not as though the cops have been ignoring them. Cabs and limos are often stopped and cited for various violations. But there is not a lot of support from the city and courts.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 4:38 p.m.

So Yellow Car decided that they would switch from the City Taxicab Licensing to the State Limo License because it meant more money and less regulation for them... But they don't like it when other people license themselves as limos and come to A2 to do the same thing? It is hard to call somebody a scab when they are doing the same thing as you.


Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 11:58 p.m.

Actually there is more regulation through MDOT then with the city. The "scabs" as they are referred to are most likely those cars that do not comply with either the city ordinances or MDOT policies.

Elliott Snow

Sat, Feb 9, 2013 : 10:51 p.m.

What we call"scabs" are mostly out-of-town limo AND sometimes C ABS which are not licensed for Ann Arbor, that are NOT doing the same thing we are doing. Chiefly, State law requires limos to provide their fare information up front. To my knowledge, Yellow Car is the only company that actually does this. Any limo driver who does not tell the customer at the start of the trip, how much he will charge for the trip, (the fare), is actually in violation of State law.


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 3:19 a.m.

The difference is that Yellow Car is a local limo service, not the limo companies that come to town from Detroit, Traverse City and points beyond. Changing from a cab to a limousine business doesn't change the fact that it is a local company. The Ann Arbor News changed it's name to does that mean it isn't a local company anymore because they changed their name. So yes Youwhine there is a difference between Yellow Car and the limo services that have no roots in Ann Arbor and come here just on the busy nights to take advantage of weekend business in a college town.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 6:44 p.m.

And we both know that there is little-to-no actual enforcement of the limos like there is for the cabs. As for price controls, I would cite rent control, alcohol, tow companies, doctors, insurance, and others as being areas where the govnerment sets limits on pricing.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 5:40 p.m.

Actually there is MORE regulation as a limo (i.e. limo drivers must ber certified in CPR) The regulations are dictated by the state of Michigan rather than the city of Ann Arbor. But as a cab company, you cannot set your own rates. Tell me any other industry in which a government entity dictates the price you can charge for a service regardless of the fluctuations in costs associated with providing that service.

Martha Cojelona Gratis

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

It's true that cab drivers have too much leeway. Let's try cracking down on cabs running red lights, on cabs parking and leaving their cars in zones clearly marked no parking tow away zones, on cab drivers with bogus rates, etc. There are some cab drivers that are great and there are some who are clearly looking to take advantage of people who have become dependent on their services. If someone has the right mind to know they are too inebriated to drive or to walk home, I want them to feel safe calling a local cab. This incident might be an outlier but it is unacceptable. And honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if this wasn't the first time this kind of thing has happened this year.


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 3:12 a.m.

While driving a cab I was ticketed for parking in a no parking zone on campus. I was out of the car for only a few minutes. Came out to the cop writing me a ticket. He said that was no parking for everyone. As soon as I left I see in my rearview mirror the cop parking where I was, getting out and going into the 7-Eleven. Apparently he only ticketed me because he wanted to park there illegally and I had his parking spot.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 7:33 p.m.

True, it might be the first time the crime was reported..doesn't sound like the police have much to go on either.

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 4:02 p.m.

OH SO SOON,people have been asking AAPD to bust the gypsy cabs for years+they continue to ignore that kunselman has spoken i hope the COPS ENFORCE TAXI ORDINANCES THAT HAVE BEEN IN PLACE MANY YEARS.ithink there is one "if vehichle has the word TAXI on it,it must have a2 bond amazed it took this long for a heinous crime like this to occur w the cops allowing gypsy cabs to run afoul of the law.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 3:56 p.m.

Is Blue Cab and Night Ride still viable? I had a co-work wait over TWO HOURS for night ride once. She canceled it and called Yellow Cab and they got her within 20 minutes. I am now a little more worried for her safety. I think I should have her call me when she gets home. And to take a picture of the cabbie's credentials.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

I don't think you have a lot of public support Mr. Kunselman.

Peter Eckstein

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 2:53 p.m.

In all the cabs I have taken in other cities, there is a photo ID of the cab driver highly visible in the back seat. I have always found that reassuring. Having such identification available to passengers should be a requirement of any cab operating in the city, and residents--especially including students--should be warned not to take a cab without an ID corresponding to the actual driver.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.

Ann Arbor City Council is missing the point as usual. One of the most important deterents to criminal activity is a highly visible police presence. The second most important is a population that is aware of its environment. We can have more laws and more regulations but with no one to enforce them they have little or no chance of success. So we continue to reduce the police presence or send them off on some other endeavor such as enforcing the new crosswalk ordinance. The police department is not a revenue arm of the local authority. Now we can have them checking the licensing of taxi cabs really. This mind set that if we only hang a sign or pass a law everything will be right with the world is just naive. If the world were that easy the ten commandments would have been sufficient.

Elliott Snow

Sat, Feb 9, 2013 : 10:41 p.m.

This is a very good point. A major part of the solution is educating the public. People from New York city, who are used to dealing with"gypsy limos" know what to do - for instance, agree on a fare before you go. In Ann Arbor, some companies whether they are limo or cab-licensed, are more trustworthy than others. Being "local" certainly helps.

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 11:47 p.m.

then the detectives should focus on athiest society.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 4:45 p.m.

Other frequent duties for the police.. 1. Being a father figure when the mom can't control the son. 2. Running on many false burglar alarms that were tripped accidentally. 3. Checking on numerous "suspicious" persons in black hoodies. 4. Running all over town for fender benders that should have been avoided in the first place.

Lizzy Alfs

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 2:24 p.m.

I wrote a story about the limo vs taxi issue in May 2011. "Regulatory maze allows state-licensed limousines to impersonate taxis in Ann Arbor:

Elliott Snow

Sat, Feb 9, 2013 : 10:36 p.m.

I have a problem with this wording - "limos IMPERSONATE taxis". This is a falsehood, a slanted characterization purveyed by some taxicab drivers who resent that according to State law, licensed limos are able to provide transportation just as well as "taxicab licensed" vehicles can. The "taxicab" drivers want to have a monopoly on this business and thus demonize the competition. In fact, limos are not "impersonationg" anyone. They are doing what the State laws mandate them to do - provide transportation for hire to people who want it.


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 2:58 a.m.

Since the city put a new law trying to keep state licensed limos out of Ann Arbor (and incidently more money in their coffers) they now require cabs to have the metal plate on the trunk of the car. If it doesn't have the plate it ain't a taxi.

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 11:45 p.m.

attn dugster some limo stickers are affixed w scotch tape.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 7:31 p.m.

"Licensed limos have a gold color sticker in the driver side rear window" AH, why not ALL side windows ? How expensive would that rule be, many people can't be bother to walk to the drivers side of the car where traffic is passing by.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 6:08 p.m.

Amy - I am not familiar with any visible stickers, etc.., but in Detroit, cabs are required to have a small rectangular metal plate attached to their trunk that has a unique # on it that can easily be validated as to belonging to that car. This plate is good for 2 years and allows the consumer to make sure the cab he/she is getting into is registered with the City.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 4:17 p.m.

Licensed limos have a gold color sticker in the driver side rear window.

Amy Biolchini

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 2:37 p.m.

Thanks for the link to the article! Your story and this one definitely will mean I'll be choosier about which cabs I hop in to -- but usually when I'm looking for a cab there's not much time for me to do my homework when I'm out and about. I wonder if there's a better way to outwardly identify licensed cabs, like through a sticker on the vehicle.

Atticus F.

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 2:22 p.m.

This is nonsense. Next, we will be told that it is illegal to call an airport shuttle, or to request gas money for a carpool. What this comes down to is very simple, it's an agreement between 2 people for money in exchange for transportation. There is nothing illegal about that.

Ricardo Queso

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

If even one (fill in the blank) is prevented, then we must do it.

Urban Sombrero

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.

My god, I love you.

Tim Hornton

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

Seems like a lot women are getting sexually assaulted by strangers over the years in aa. I still can't forget about that poor um college girl jogging around campus about 5 years ago during spring break and was raped by a bum. And just recently that young kid got sentenced for raping a girl while she was sleeping.

Tim Hornton

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 5:48 p.m.

I don't know about everyone but college age girls sure seem to be the target.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

I think it's important that everyone close your windows, lock your doors. This is crazy! They coming and raping everybody here.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 1:22 p.m.

Watch for this incident to be used as a pretext for the city to crack down -- not on UNLICENSED cars -- but on state LICENSED limos that operate outside the control of the councilman Kunselman and his taxi cab board. The solution is this -- Ann Arbor needs Uber to come to town. With Uber, students would use smart phones to arrange rides, which would mean that they'd know the car and driver were legit before they got in for a ride. And if the rides were arranged by an app, then there'd be no question of limos flouting state regulations by picking up passengers who hail them on the street.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 5:12 p.m.

Uber itself is not licensed, but it shouldn't need to be -- that's because the drivers that it refers clients to ARE licensed limo drivers. However, as your link demonstrates, various cities and states are trying very hard to protect politically-influential taxi companies from Uber's lower prices and disruptive business model, for example:


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 2:14 p.m.

Uber does not make sure that anyone is licensed. Calling any type of company is much better than using Uber.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 1:12 p.m.

Yellow Cab made the rules that Yellow Car can no longer live under. Starting with a only a few cars in the 60's Yellow Cab became the dominant taxi company for Ann Arbor and Blue Cab likewise in Ypsi. The Americans with Disabilities Act required large city Transit Authorities like AATA provide adequate service to patrons of all mobility level. Millions of Federal dollars by way of contract flowed to Ann Arbor to provide ADA transportation. Now A-ride. AATA subcontracted with one Fed-approved company to meet their requirement - Yellow Cab. In addition, the citizens of Ann Arbor taxpayers initiated a very popular subsidized ride program for senior citizens. One of the first in the United States. Yellow Cab "won" both contracts and rapidly expanded in size with its lucrative obligations. Other than a few independent operators and Blue Cab from Ypsi, there was no viable competition. The savey owner who started YC and other local companies drove his own taxi and "bought" out his partners over time retired a decade ago as one of Ann Arbor's own entrepreneur success stories. Between the City-run Cab Board and Yellow Cab itself, the majority of rules governing licensing, the Ride programs, and metered fares became established. Cut rate competitors came and most went. Green apparently stayed. "Yellow Cab" is much like a franchise. The same as in those Yellow Cabs of NYC. Once holding a large amount of national club clout. Monetary changes in the City programs and Fed AATA contracts coupled with new Yellow management decisions struggling to counter the foreign "limo" competition probably led to its move from A2 to lax State level licensing. Unfortunately, with the high driver turnover, just like apartment keys, everybody has got one and can commandeer a cab. Luckily many cars have tracking devices. Transportation is a gritty business.

Ann English

Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 1:28 a.m.

When you spelled one word, 'savey,' I thought you meant 'frugal,' not 'savvy,' like you do in your following comments. Sure, Green Cab stayed in business. I saw one just last week. I usually mistake those cabs for Sears Driving School vehicles. There's another group with top lights on their car roofs: the driving schools. Nothing whatsoever to do with deliveries of food or people.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 10:12 p.m.

"Starting" and "Started" are poor choices. Even the article says "since the 1930s." Coalesce would be a better choice or maybe this works Starting with a only a few cars in the 60's, "Bill's version of" Yellow Cab... And The savvy owner who started " Bill's version of" YC .... Slacker of an English student. Even worse with the French.

Stupid Hick

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 7:46 p.m.

Finally a commenter that gets it.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 6:41 p.m.

Ha! Perhaps you have a more interesting Yellow Cab history. I heard there were even call boxes for cabs once. Before my time. Working backwards from recollection, owner Bill's retirement 2004? to a handful of partners/drivers on Adams in the sixties. What came prior is unknown. Perhaps Bill ran his hack in the 50's and just looked a lot younger than his age...


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 4:41 p.m.

"Starting with a only a few cars in the 60's Yellow Cab became the dominant taxi company for Ann Arbor ..." I think they have been around a bit longer than that....

Urban Sombrero

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 1 p.m.

The police should "crack down" on this? How about the cops "crack down" on red light runners? Or, better yet, how about they "crack down" on all the home invasions? What ever happened with the campus rapist? I'd like them to "crack down" on that guy. Right now? They're "cracking down" on speeders (as per usual) and people who don't obey the crosswalk law. You know, super important things. **rolleyes**


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 7:27 p.m.

Things like this is why some folks don't really like the police. Police hassle the wrong people many times...oh you didn't slam on your brakes and let the person walk across the street you mean evil person, heres a nice fine for you. Meanwhile the city just kickbacks and allows anybody to play taxi man, now they think it may not be such a good idea. DUH.

Urban Sombrero

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 2:21 p.m.

@ beachbaby...YES! My son and I saw someone texting while driving the other day. You would've thought she was trying to slalom. Left, right, left, right......all within her lane but still.....scary! And, @SillySally, I could not agree more. Let's be honest...what is the bigger threat? Someone going 5 mph over the speed limit? Or, someone who runs a red light? The speeder is less likely to cause damage. The red light runner? Could kill someone. It's ridiculous! I want to support the police. But, it's difficult. I feel like, in Ann Arbor, they go for the easy money----ie speeders. Instead of dealing with the stuff that could be potentially dangerous----ie red light runners. And, I don't care what anyone in the PD says, I totally believe they have ticket quotas. I think that's par for the course for any police dept.

Urban Sombrero

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 2:16 p.m.

@ActionJackson........that is an incredibly intriguing question. I never thought of that.

Silly Sally

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 1:29 p.m.

Yea, they hide out on lonely streets on a Sunday Morning. I saw one on Maple near Liberty a week ago. How useless. Why not have them "hide" and catch red light runners and pedestrian redlight crosswalk runners, or crawlers?


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 1:22 p.m.

I always wonder if they have ever cracked down on anyone texting while driving----I am usually wondering this as I am passing several people who are texting while driving.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 1:21 p.m.

How do you know this isn't the same guy as the "campus rapist" driving a car with no license?

Urban Sombrero

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

Yes, I'm ranting. Sorry. Haven't had my coffee yet. No coffee makes Urban Sombrero a **slightly** irritated woman.

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 12:54 p.m.

The reason "might" is used is not because city officials are wishy-washy about whether to respond and get tough on unlicensed taxicabs. Rather, it's just that they're still figuring out what enforcement options might be available, and at this point it seems there's at least some uncertainty about what they might be able to do. Kunselman noted he has reached out to Kirk Profit, the city's lobbyist in Lansing, to try to get some action on this issue legislatively at the state level.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 5:51 p.m.

A year ago called the AAPD regarding unlicensed cabs soliciting fares on Main st. I was tod by the dispatcher, "we have been advised by the City Attorney not to intervene in taxi disputes". Gotta love Ann Arbor's selective enforcement of their own laws.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 4:39 p.m.

Shouldn't they have figured that out before they wrote the ordinance? Their designer laws bite them in the the crosswalk law. Talk about unprofessional. "I don't know what other actions can be done other than start enforcing our ordinance Stephen Kunselman said some companies are "flouting the law" and "trying to beat the system" while "trolling for fares in our downtown" without a taxicab license from the city. Mayor John Hieftje said he appreciated Kunselman's remarks. "Perhaps we could have the city attorney's office look into that to see if we could enforce that," Hieftje said, getting a nod of support from City Attorney Stephen Postema.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 12:52 p.m.

Yellow Car is wonderful and reasonable! Getting out from under the unfair price controls of the City council allows them to give decent rates to regular users etc. I can call them, get a flat rate and know exactly the cost of the trip! Leave them alone. This is but another excuse to squeeze more revenue out of local businesses and their customers.

Ann English

Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 1:20 a.m.

From what you say, it sounds like a (for Yellow Car) proper response to the intense competition that Blue Cab had been giving Yellow Cab.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.

"Persu said another reason is because Yellow Car, now that it's no longer licensed by the city of Ann Arbor, doesn't have to adhere to the Taxicab Board's strict regulations regarding fare rates. He said the city wouldn't let the rates fluctuate or keep pace with rising gas prices." Maybe we should tie city council and the mayors compensation to the price of gas. As gas goes up they get paid less. That's what they do to the taxi people.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

I "might" go to work today!

Silly Sally

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

Require ALL cabs and limos to have their name, phone number, and address permanently marked on the side of their vehicle. If the state limo law does not require it, get legislators to change it. That alone would scare off most criminals. Random traffic stops where this data is checked, jsut as all of us have our driving history and wants and warrants checked if and when we are ever stopped, will act as a BIG deterrent to this behavior. But don't pass an Ann Arbor only law for cabs, outlawing state limos. It probably would be illegal. The city could require all state limo companies to register with their name and address, and vehicle plate number, and a cop can easily check this anytime without bothering an honest driver. Criminals beware, though.It would take a lot to fake a vehicle license plate, too.

Silly Sally

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.

By stopping and checking a vehicle, I mean if the driver commits a driving offense, not unwarranted stops. An officer can see a cab sitting at curbside and run its name and plate info with out ever stopping or contacting the driver. But if the driver were a fake, he'd be caught.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 12:36 p.m.

As Alex said, Yellow Car has very strict guidelines for their drivers and their employees. Dispersing blame all around will accomplish nothing except create yet more solutions in search of problems, a phenomenon that is frankly becoming epidemic in our culture and badly needs to be addressed. And whether these scabs come from Detroit, Grosse Pointe or Rockford Illinois is not the issue. It is these random vehicles that have no identification and no accountability that are traveling problems-waiting-to-happen. I personally know of over a dozen instances in which one of them overcharged to the tune of 400% or more. At Yellow, if a driver tries that, the driver is immediately terminated.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 12:35 p.m.

".... it's unclear what company the cab came from and if it was a taxi licensed by the city or a limousine service licensed by the state. " seems like it would be a good idea to establish this before blaming "strangers" from out of town.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 2:48 p.m.

Seems to me it would be nice to establish that before you blame state licensed drivers in town.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 12:07 p.m.

Every time something bad happens, governments crack down on the people who didn't do it. I fail to see how enforcing licensing will do anything other than provide yet more security theater. And be a neat way to restrict competition.

Joslyn at the U

Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 12:33 a.m.

Its the rule of obama politics lol never let a good crisis go to waste


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 11:56 a.m.

"Might" crack down, eh? I suppose it will take a problem or some sort of crime to get them to change that "might" to a "will."


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 11:50 a.m.

Do we know if this cab was called for service or if it was waiting in the area for a fare? I would imagine it was waiting, but don't recall that being mentioned.

Fred Pettit

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 2:26 a.m.

Sadly this could be some pervert with a car that looks like a cab, cruising for young women that they've had too much to drink. There's much that has not been released by the police or

Kyle Feldscher

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

leezee- That information hasn't been explicitly released by police yet, but my personal experience with that area of town is that there are many taxis/limos waiting for fares in the area around bar closing time. It's reasonable to assume it was a taxi/limo that was waiting in the area.

dading dont delete me bro

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 11:45 a.m.

um...why issue licenses if you don't crack down on the unlicensed ones...?

Joslyn at the U

Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 12:31 a.m.

Well the fact is the taxicab board doesn't even really understand the business.

Snarf Oscar Boondoggle

Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 5:25 a.m.

because they are so .... Fast & Furious!

Jack Gladney

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

You ask, "Why?" It's called money in the city's greedy little pockets.

Atlas Shrugged

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 11:32 a.m.

Ann Arbor "might" crack down on unlicensed cabs? They're "talking" about doing so? I realize there might be some legal nuances involved, but on the surface there is a licensing requirement of some sort, and so if some cabs are operating without the license, either get rid of the requirement or enforce it. It's sort of like, umm, these trivial things called immigration laws: don't follow the laws when you enter this country and you're here illegally. Oh, wait, we don't enforce immigration laws, so Ann Arbor might as well just let the unlicensed cabbies off the hook.

Elliott Snow

Sat, Feb 9, 2013 : 10:11 p.m.

The real issue is that the"scab" cars are not following State laws which regulate limos. Limo licensed cars are required to provide a fixed fare amount UP FRONT, BEFORE taking the customer anywhere. I believe Yellow Car is the only company actually complying with this State requirement - some of the "scab" cars (I callthem"gypsylimos") attempt to collect whatever they can at the end of the trip. For example demanding $80. for taking a person from Downtown to a hotel on Plymouth Road, a trip of little more than 4 miles worth no more than about $15. People from New York who are used to dealing with "gypsy limos" know how to deal with this; they negotiate a price before they go. Many other visitors to Ann Arbor have no clue and get stung.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 8:12 p.m.

That would be great EXCEPT, State law supercedes Ann Arbor law. Yellow Cab (Car) is licensed by the STATE. Ann Arbor has no jurisdiction. There can be NO metered rate for their services. If you are going from point A to point B it is a FLAT RATE. Yellow Cab claims this is a benefit to consumers, but then they complain about the city not going after the "scabs". Well the licensing fees are what allows them to enforce the laws. In fact, Yellow Car should complain to the people who license them, the STATE, not the city. The city can NOT do anything about companies that act as a taxi service but call themselves something else. Every person who uses their brains knows what Yellow CAB is, they are a taxi, not a limo service.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

"just make"


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 2:43 p.m.

If you read the article, you would see that many of the cabs they want to crack down on are already licensed by the state. They are not the cabs that need to be regulated. It's a nonsolution designed to make it look like something is being done when it isn't. It will justake it harder for local cab drivers while the out-of-town floaters go free.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

I know saw the headline " might" crack down. Eh maybe next year after a few more incidents they " will" crack down.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 11:27 a.m.

Stephen Kunselman, the guy who "cracked" down on people parking in their driveway? Yeah, this should go well...

Stupid Hick

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 7:38 p.m.

OK, women getting raped by "imposter" taxi drivers is comparable to someone "abandoning" a car in their own driveway. Great comparison. No reason for the city to investigate.

Basic Bob

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 11:09 a.m.

I feel so much better that our city government is involved. I hope they don't find out that the perp is actually an off-duty pizza delivery guy with a pie-shaped top light, or they will need to license them, too.

Stupid Hick

Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 7:34 p.m.

God forbid that our elected officials should investigate whether our local laws are being enforced.