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Posted on Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

War on limo drivers? Ann Arbor's ramped-up enforcement of taxicab ordinance causes stir

By Ryan J. Stanton


Paul Epstein, a driver for Yellow Car in Ann Arbor, believes city officials are unfairly cracking down on his company for choosing to operate as a state-licensed limousine company instead of a city-licensed taxicab company. "There doesn't seem to be any reason for it except the preservation of this model," he said of the police crackdown on limos. "And I don't think a model takes precedence over people's livelihoods, and people not driving home drunk or walking home and risking assault."

Ryan J. Stanton |

Paul Epstein, a driver for Yellow Cab and now Yellow Car in Ann Arbor for all but six of the past 32 years, says city officials are unfairly targeting his industry.

"This is probably the worst page in the entire book of cab driving in Ann Arbor ever," said Epstein, one of a number of drivers angry with Stephen Kunselman, chairman of the city's Taxicab Board and a member of the City Council, for prompting heightened enforcement of taxicabs and limousines.

"It does not seem this enforcement benefits anybody," Epstein said.


A taxicab from Amazing Blue Taxi picks up passengers on Main Street on Tuesday evening. Stephen Kunselman, the city's Taxicab Board chairman, says city-licensed taxis like this are fine, but it's state-licensed limousine companies that operate like taxis that are a problem in Ann Arbor.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Police Chief John Seto confirmed the Ann Arbor Police Department did ramp up enforcement of the city's taxicab ordinance this past weekend in conjunction with an educational campaign.

In the wake of three alleged assaults on women by taxi drivers, police are making sure residents are aware of the differences between city-licensed taxicabs and state-licensed limousines, and they're cracking down on limos that act like taxis by trolling for fares.

In one of the reported assaults, a city-licensed taxicab driver from Blue Cab was charged with two misdemeanors for inappropriately touching and attempting to kiss a customer.

It's unclear what companies the other two drivers accused of assaulting the female passengers worked for and if those drivers were licensed by the city or the state.

The city licenses more than 100 taxicabs and more than 200 taxi drivers, but there are limousine companies operating under state law that have been acting like taxicabs in Ann Arbor.

Cracking down

Kunselman said it's an important distinction that state-licensed limo drivers can only pick up pre-arranged customers and cannot go "trolling for fares in our downtown" without a taxicab license from the city. He said he simply wants to put a stop to limo companies acting like taxis.

"I wouldn't call it waging a war, by any means," he said. "My advocacy as the Taxicab Board chair is to ensure the paramount safety of our citizens. Limousine drivers that come into our community and troll up and down our streets looking for fares is a violation of our taxicab ordinance."

Among the companies Kunselman has publicly accused of skirting the city's taxicab ordinance and "impersonating" taxis without a city license is Yellow Car.

The company operated for years in Ann Arbor under the name Yellow Cab with taxicabs licensed by the city, but it changed and became a limousine company licensed by the state in 2011.

"If you want to operate a limo in the city, that's fine, but if you're going to operate a limo in the same vein as a taxi, then no, that's not OK," Kunselman said. "We as a community need to know who these drivers are when they're picking up our citizens, and the limousine law does not allow for that."


City Council Member Stephen Kunselman, chairman of the city's Taxicab Board, is accused of waging a "war on limo drivers." He says it's simply a matter of public safety.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Seto said there were some citations issued this past weekend, but he didn't have the exact number or the specific violation for the tickets. He said the fines could be up to $500.

"We started with an education process to make sure that people are clear on the ordinance and also on the state law," Seto said. "We are going to make sure that our ordinance is enforced."

Epstein said he and his fellow drivers at Yellow Car, some of whom are planning to attend tonight's meeting of the city's Taxicab Board, have unnecessarily become the culprits in a "war on limo drivers." He said one consequence is that many members of the public might go without rides home from the bar now.

"The public, which is responsible for this demand for for-hire vehicles, may have to do without, and meanwhile drunk drivers are now free to drive all they want, since police are pulling over cabs and limos by the dozen," he said. "I wonder if John Cleese could dream up something so absurd."

Epstein said he's been a night owl for years, working shifts that last through the early morning hours, but as of this week he's changing his schedule. He's switching to day shifts.

"It's just a really precarious situation out there at night," he said, referring to the crackdown. "I've always been very oriented toward taking people who hail me, and now I realize if I do that, I might be pulled over and get a ticket for $500. It's just something I don't even want to be around."

Elliott Snow, who has been a driver with Yellow Cab and now Yellow Car for 19 years, emailed City Council members this week to offer his thoughts on the issue.

After driving around the past weekend, Snow said it seems the city's efforts to crack down on limos accepting walk-up business has been successful in getting many of them to leave town.


A taxi from Across Town Cab, which operates as a city-licensed taxicab service, drives down Main Street Tuesday night.

Ryan J. Stanton |

As a result, an hour after the bars closed early Saturday morning, Snow said, his company still had about 45 pending requests for cars between South University and Main Street that it was unable to fulfill. He said it was a similar situation after the bars closed early Sunday morning.

"There were perhaps 30-40 people milling around outside Conor's and Rush Street, looking for 'cabs' that weren't there to take them home," he said. "It was 20 degrees out, these people had been drinking, and many were really not dressed to be out for a prolonged time in cold weather."

He said those were people who had gotten used to going to bars downtown and finding ready transportation to take them home at 1 or 2 a.m.

Regardless of what type of licensing his management chooses, Snow said, it's still the same company with the same drivers providing the same service. He called Kunselman's remarks about Yellow Car an "appalling betrayal" of one of Ann Arbor's best, long-term, home-grown businesses.

He and others have argued the city should be more concerned about out-of-town limos and cabs poaching in Ann Arbor and grossly overcharging customers.

Dual-licensing proposed

In his email to council, Snow suggested dual-licensing, where state-licensed limos also could work as taxis if they register with the city, as a way to make sure the community's needs are being met.

"The state licensing of limos actually is a plus, because those can go work elsewhere during the slow days/weeks like spring break and the entire slow season of summer, leaving what business remains to the local companies," Snow said. "But when it is busy, as on many weekends and special events, they would help out with meeting the increased demand."

Snow believes a dual-licensing model would provide the city with a handle on limos should any issues arise. He suggested the city also could require they visibly post their rates or even require them to give up-front price quotes like Yellow Car does to avoid overcharging.


Sometimes Yellow Car's state-licensed limousines, which look like taxis, are pink.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"Such a registration requirement might also tend to keep away the really fly-by-night operators who have no valid state license in the first place," he said.

Kunselman said if Snow wants to submit a written proposal on how Ann Arbor can improve its taxicab regulations, the Taxicab Board is willing to consider it.

Mayor John Hieftje said he's going to leave it up to the city's Taxicab Board to figure out the best solution.

"They seem to be really delving into it and taking a hard look at it," he said.

Kunselman said he doesn't expect the Taxicab Board to take any action on the issue at tonight's meeting, but he does expect a good discussion about the new enforcement.

"It has certainly raised the ire of a few taxicab drivers — although, I wouldn't call them taxicab drivers because they're not running taxicabs. They're limousine drivers," he said. "That's a very important distinction because they're operating without adherence to our taxicab ordinance."

Kunselman said he stands by his previously stated position and he will continue to advocate for a well-regulated taxi industry in Ann Arbor to protect the safety of residents.

He said he has spoken with a representative of the Great Lakes Limousine Association who agrees "rogue limos" give the industry a bad name. He's inviting the group's director to speak at tonight's meeting, which starts at 5:30 p.m. inside city hall and includes a public comment period.

"The Taxicab Board is certainly open to any changes in our taxicab ordinance that any of the citizens out there or industry people want to submit," Kunselman said. "We're certainly working on some legislation at the state level, but this is a tough, complicated issue."

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.


Elliott Snow

Sun, Mar 3, 2013 : 12:38 a.m.

memepolice, Here's that section of State law again - (k) "Through any device or arrangement" means any and all methods, means, agreements, circumstances, operations, or subterfuges under which a person undertakes for hire to conduct, direct, control, or otherwise perform the transportation of passengers by limousine upon the public highways of this state." This seems to say that it is even OK for a limo driver to put a Toplight on his vehicle if that's the "device" he chooses to use to get customers. It clearly says nothing at all about State limo-licensed vehicles being required to do only pre-arranged trips. For that matter, what is "pre-arrangement"? If I am parked, and a person walks up to me and asks, "Are you open?" and I say "yes" and they tell me where they want to go, and I tell them it will cost $XX.00 and they then decide to get in and have me take them to their destination, is that not a "pre-arranged" trip? So State law actually seems to support a limo driver 'trolling', or parking outside of a bar, or stopping to pick up someone who hails him on the street. Read section (k) above again - it says "through ANY device". Doesn't "any device"mean "any device"? Personally, I think the people of Michigan would be better off if all local taxi licensing schemes were eliminated and the State did all taxi licensing, just as they license limos now.

Elliott Snow

Sun, Mar 3, 2013 : 12:31 a.m.

memepolice, Trying to dismiss me as having a narrow view in support of Yellow just won't work, here's why - I have already spoken to most of your points in other comments here and under other related stories. You can find them all by clicking on my name to see my "profile". You have a very narrow view, if you think the issue of fare rates vs.gas prices is what it boils down to. There are in fact 2 models available for starting a livery business in Michigan, and it is clear that one offers several advantages over the other. My opinions are my own, as a homeowner and 45 year resident of Ann Arbor. I am virtually retired from driving, occasionally still driving on weekends for some extra spending money. In fact, I drive for Yellow when I do drive, and, having experienced both now, I personally would not like to see Yellow return to the "licensed Taxicab" model, even if we are no longer able to pick up street walkups. The State law clearly states, about how limo-licensed vehicles may solicit for business, that (k) "Through any device or arrangement" means any and all methods, means, agreements, circumstances, operations, or subterfuges under which a person undertakes for hire to conduct, direct, control, or otherwise perform the transportation of passengers by limousine upon the public highways of this state."

Elliott Snow

Mon, Mar 4, 2013 : 9:10 p.m.

memepolice, No problem, I was not offended. And I admit I was cherry-picking certain parts of the Limo Act to support my views; however those parts do say what they say, and apparently the GLLA takes them to heart also, and possibly some courts have too. The debate is basically about different visions. But as an A2 resident and homeowner, I feel the Cab Board is not looking at the "big picture" you mention, of A2's needs, or else it feels constrained by some kind of unstated conflicts. Tom Crawford's position on cab fares is known to be inflexible, and Mr.Kunselman told me, on the topic of dual licensing, "We can't!" and walked away without explaining. I have more I might say about Yellow, but I'll save it for another post.


Sun, Mar 3, 2013 : 9:15 p.m.

Mr. Snow, I did not mean to sound derogatory in my assessment of either your remarks. I understand that you are being sincere. However, when you defend your employer's activity as it relates to your own income without looking at the larger issues here, you appear more interested in self preservation than in addressing the underlying problems suggested by this debate. I see this whole debate as being more about contrasting visions of governmental and personal responsibility and how these visions impact the lives of ordinary people rather than merely being about taxis vs. limos. In any case, I apologize if my characterization seemed too harsh. Though I disagree with your interpretation of the statute in question and your proposed solutions, your comments were worth commenting on because I found them much more compelling than nearly all the rest on here and in the article. I appreciate your insights. Thanks for your response.


Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 8:04 p.m.

In addition, I would also like to say that if the high costs of doing business (gas, insurance, etc.) are what caused this whole debacle in the first place, why not address this issue head on? Indeed, other cities have addressed this issue in a number of very effective and creative ways. The taxi industry in Austin, TX, for example, has a surcharge for fares after 10pm which, among other things, obviously addresses the increased fuel costs of taking shorter, less lucrative fares. This model could work well in Ann Arbor as the night and weekend business is very similar in nature to that of Austin which also has a large university and huge student population that takes taxis but only for short distances. In any case, if the City can effectively address the high and unpredictable costs of doing business in the taxi industry, the centerpiece of the deregulation/self-regulation argument from Yellow Car and others would be considerably weakened. Now, I am not saying that merely addressing costs will solve every problem, but I think that the City could do themselves a considerable favor by merely coming up with some fair scheme that would reduce the cost burden (mostly gas). How about simply instituting a surcharge that fluctuates with the price of fuel and is reviewed on a regular basis? It seems that this would be the simplest solution that would address the central problem.


Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 7:42 p.m.

First, I would like to thank the City for finally addressing this matter. Except for Green Cabs, Yellow Car/Cab/whatever, the last few weeks have seen a decrease in the number of limos that either look exactly like taxis or just enough like taxis. However, though there is still more work to do, I congratulate the City on its efforts. Second, it seems that, unsurprisingly, narrow self-interest and provincialism dominate the discussion. Indeed, Mr. Snow and Mr. Epstein's comments attest to this narrowness of vision. Let me make this clear: self-regulation is unacceptable, breaking the law is not a business model, and the passenger transportation industry is a business affected with a public interest and, therefore, requires heavy government regulation. These assessments are true not only here in Ann Arbor, but in nearly every taxi and limo market on the planet. Now, as to Snow and Epstein's concerns, which primarily revolve around their interests as drivers for the largest single violator (Yellow Car), I think that they bring up some legitimate issues despite their obvious biases. However, I think that the market will correct itself allowing the legitimate taxi companies to expand to meet the new demand that was once serviced by illegitimate sectors of industry. In other words, their concerns are premature. Moreover, Mr. Snow's dual-licensing suggestion seems a bit unnecessary to me. It attempts to address a problem that does not exist as we already have a legitimate and working system for addressing non-prearranged fares and it's called taxi licensing. Why not suggest to his employer that they get their cars licensed as taxis instead? It's not the City's fault that Yellow Car and so many others refuse to play by the rules.

Elliott Snow

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 1:01 a.m.

The 'provincialism' at play here is that of the City's Cab Board. "Self-regulation is unacceptable"??? I guess we need 'central planning' a la the Soviet Union. But if so, let's make it across-the-board then! Regulate rental rates across the city, cap how much restaurants can charge for a meal, cap the price of a haircut, etc etc. Why should taxi fares be the ONLY service that is price-regulated in the City? Let's regulate them ALL! As for 'playing by the rules" that's just trash talk. Yellow and others are playing by the rules - the State of Michigan's rules. Any other view is just provincial 'spin'.

Joslyn at the U

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 10:35 p.m.

Spoken like a attorney.......hmmmmm

Bank Rearden

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 11:06 a.m.

All I can do is laugh at all the incorrect information posted on this site. I am both a cab driver and a cab company owner. There is only one thing that I have read here that I agree with. That is the fact that Ann Arbors rates are far too low! I encourage ANYONE who thinks the cab business is an easy way to make money, to climb aboard! As a driver working for a good company with plenty of business, your looking at about $100 per day with no benefits! That's for 10-12 hours a day! As an owner, it's even less!

Joslyn at the U

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 11:28 a.m.

Its a sad state of affairs. I agree

Bank Rearden

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 10:26 a.m.

I'm glad to see that some thought is FINALLY being given to this issue! It would be great if some thought went into the timing of the Taxi Board meetings! As the co-owner of one of Ann Arbor's locally owned and operated licensed Cab companies, I (we) would have loved to attend last night's meeting. It is unfortunate that it was scheduled during one of our BUSIEST hours of the year!! Every cab in town was going back and forth to the airport, train and bus stations; taking students to Spring Break! Why on Earth was this meeting not held next week while the Students were gone!!


Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 8:09 a.m.

Kunselman Kracked that head! NO MORE SCAB CABS! LOL

Joslyn at the U

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 11:27 a.m.

He acts as an ignorant child throwing a tantrum and he basically got his head chewed off last night publicly which he duely deserved

Elliott Snow

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 6:40 a.m.

Having attended the Cab Board meeting earlier tonight and now having more information than before, I am finding that my picture of the situation is even less clear than before. It appears the City has in fact had 'dual licensing' in the past, less than 20 years ago. Yet 6 years ago, the City refused to provide taxi permits to a local company which had very clean late model limo-licensed cars, for unstated reasons. Although the Mayor is quoted as saying he felt the Cab Board was"delving deeply into it and taking a hard look at it", Mr. Kunselman's final remarks seem to contradict this. Even after his own 'guest speakers' from the Great Lakes Limo Association told the Cab Board in no uncertain terms that the tickets the AAPD had started writing to limo-licensed drivers for violations of Ann Arbor's Taxicab Ordinance were entirely ILLEGAL under State law and likely to "cost the City a lot of money", Mr. Kunselman concluded the meeting by stating he was not interested in and would not consider 'dual licensing'. He did not say why. It appears to me the meeting was largely for 'show' and that Mr.Kunselman actually has his mind closed to making any substantive changes in Cab Board policies, which do not really make any sense in terms of Ann Arbor's actual transportation needs. Later when I pointed out to him it would solve the problem of the City "not knowing who was driving these cars", if they were required to register with the City, he said only "We can't!" and quickly walked away. Well, why not? There is a 'safety issue' but it is not what Mr. Kunselman says; the actual safety issue is the lack of ready transportation to take folks home, or to their hotels, or to their dorms and apartments at night, instead of leaving them stranded on the streets of Campus and Downtown late at night. Or anytime, really.


Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 8:32 p.m.

@ Elliot Snow Though not totally unworkable, dual-licensing is problematic as it does not address both the high cost of doing business (i.e., the real issue that caused this mess in the first place) and the need to have consistent appearance standards for passenger transportation vehicles that take non-prearranged fares (i.e., the reason why we are even having this discussion in light of the recent attacks). Also, just because, or perhaps precisely because, the advocate of the Great Lakes Limo Assoc. says that the City is violating the law does not mean that it is true. Now, it may be that the city is violating the law, but the Limo Act does not make it clear, specifically and explicitly, from what activities cities are prohibited with regard to limo and taxi service (that is other than saying that the Act does not apply to metered taxis). In order for the city to be clearly violating the law, normally, there would have to be either case law which backs this point or their would have to be specific language in the statute which provides clarity as to what cities would have to do to violate the Act and what sort of penalties they might incur, as far as I know. I am not saying the GLLA advocate is totally wrong, but I do not see the basis for his claims if the Act is his source.


Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 7:14 a.m.

The city ordinances where designed by the local company owners! They don't want competition in the market place! Just look at the hypocrisy... "Uncle" Rick STILL owns and operates a vehicle registered as a limousine because its too old to be a Ann Arbor taxi. Mark from stadium has all of his vehicles insured as limousines, but they are all have Ann Arbor city "taxi" bond plates... The city does not preform its due diligence when it comes to vetting these livery vehicles! Everyone involved in the local transportation industry knows it... What this really comes down to is a recession and economic warfare...

Joslyn at the U

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 3:47 a.m.

Hey taxicab board and mr stephen kunselman............myself and a few others are comming to town to get our tickets and after we beat them you're probably going to end up costing the city A LOT of money for interfering in intra state commerce when it comes to properly licensed state of michigan class b limos. We will sue. We will win. We have lawyers to. And the law is still the law no matter how much you want to act like a socialist Mr Kunselman. You know you're wrong and had a room full of people telling you that tonight but you didn't want to listen and turned a deaf ear.. This Mr Kunselman is you're pride before the fall. Not all of us are broke sir. And some of us don't mind spending lots of money to protect our rights. For shame

Joslyn at the U

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 10:19 a.m.

Right on rutrow


Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 10:07 a.m.

Once again, nobody even knows what "socialism" is. this is completely removed from any such discussion because, instead of exerting much-needed regulation on the huge guy, fascistic-type "regulation" is being inflicted on the tiny guy. I'm afraid my fellow Lefties are misguided here, just like they always are on speed limits and signals.

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 9:14 a.m.

you will lose,go try it at dtw+lose there also.

Joslyn at the U

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 9:03 a.m.

There are a lot of people looking to make money off mr kunselmans lack of intelligence

Elliott Snow

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 5:42 a.m.

Mr. Kunselman's own guest speakers at the Cab Board meeting, 2 reps of the Great Lakes Limo Association, directly and openly stated that the tickets the AAPD has started writing to enforce their new "ordinance" are ILLEGAL under State law and are likely to cost the City a lot of money. So I'm not sure why this comment has received any thumbs downs.


Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 2:27 a.m.

I agree with TomH, removing the dual registration restriction in the city's taxicab ordinance ( 7:172. - Prohibited conduct. part 1 and 2 ) would be the easiest and best way of dealing with this situation of "unknown drivers". Also a question for the AAPD: A local party bus company has been operating illegally in Ann Arbor all school year. They are not on the MDOT limousine or bus carrier lists. They openly advertise "...come to the bar in style with your fifth in hand!", and are known all over campus for having a "Mobile liquor licenses", and are promoting open intoxicants in a motor vehicle. Their website is here: Their facebook: Check the Michigan carrier lists here (limo): and here(bus): Why is it that legally licensed limousine operators (i.e Yellow car) are being publicly shamed and its drivers are being targeted with enforcement of a questionable nature, but this party bus company is allowed to operate with impunity? If this recent taxi ordinance enforcement is about public safety then I expect that the AAPD will put a stop to the illegal operation of this company. And if this is about public safety then I expect the city taxicab board to focus on things they can regulate, i.e. locally licensed taxis. Mandate that locally licensed taxis install Taxi-cam surveillance camera systems. Mandate the installation of taxi safety partition windows. Mandate GPS tracking of all city taxis. But if this is really about punishing those that went against the city taxicab board and rewarding those that remained licensed through the city, than by all means keep on enforcing that "per-arranged fare" section of the municipal code.


Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 6:07 a.m.

Bar 2 Bar quotes: "Not done with your last drink upon B2Bs arrival? Don't worry! You can bring it on board and keep the party going! We are a limousine-registered vehicle which allows our riders to have open containers!!" "its freeeeeeeeeeezing so warm up in our party bus with your own booze!!! and we will be running both buses exclusively for tiesto at EMU tomorrow so please reserv now, spots are going fast!" looks like fun to me... Who approved that vehicles safety inspection? Any idea how many passengers are actually safely able to be seated on this bus? Nope... Not in Ann Arbor!

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 12:44 a.m.

"city licenced taxis like this are fine"looks like 3 people in front seat does that crown vic have 3 seatbelts in front ,i dont think many piled in the back?this driver may allegedly be doing a very convincing imitation of overloading.2 points.


Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 8:29 p.m.

I thought you were referring to the picture above with the grand Marquis in the photo. That's not an interceptor


Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 2:48 a.m.

Cornelius is right. It used to be that the chauffeur in A2 actually cared about the industry and his fellow chauffeurs. It didn't matter what company any certain driver drove for, all drivers were drivers. Once upon a time, local drivers had courtesy for each other and would never over load because that's just stealing from another driver... They used to line up on the taxi stand and actually send fares forward because that was the etiquette... Sadly those days died during the great recession with an influx of metro airport taxis that had recently lost their contract at the airport... so they showed up in the second best market in Michigan... and Ann Arbor happily bonded them all instead of protecting the market that they pretend to regulate... Local owner/operators switched business models, a few at first, but eventually the majority followed...

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 1:46 a.m.

@notnecacery most cabs are "retired police cars'ie interceptors 2 seatbelts in front.get a clue go downtown sat night 2am watch crown vics load 6,7,8 in a 5 pass vehicle one after another all over the place


Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 1:27 a.m.

A ford crown Vic if it has a seat in the middle would have a seatbelt there too. A police interceptor model would not have anywhere to sit in the middle and not have a belt. The car in the picture appears to be a crown vic or mercury grand Marquis and not an interceptor, so yes it should have belts for 3 in front


Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 12:44 a.m.

Isn't this the same Kunselman who used to go around his district looking for any petty violation he could find and having citizens ticketed? I believe it is. He is also the same person who, when a Councilperson, coarsely insulted city personnel and told them how they should run their fleet operations - albeit he had zero experience in doing so. Now he has a hand in creating a logjam of people needing a ride home so they do not drive drunk. How many of those people, not being able to stand the cold, wound up driving their vehicles home? How many drunk drivers did our officers miss because they were busy doing a Councilman's bidding? How many people will no longer frequent downtown because they can't get rides home? Had Mr. Kunselman and his board, which contains not a single person connnected with the car/limo business, attended to matters correctly in the first place, this probem might never have occurred. I think this is a ego trip more than anything. It has nothing to do with the assaults. I sincerely hope this many never, ever runs for Mayor, although from what I can see, he appears to be making a play for it.

Peter Eckstein

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 10:22 p.m.

Craig Lounsbury writes: "it makes me wonder if brown paper bags of cash are involved." This is irresponsible, even to the point of McCarthyism. Steve Kunselman is trying to address a real problem -- three women have been molested (or worse) by drivers. The story describes his openness to hearing a range of approaches to this problem, and Mr. Lounsbury should keep his ugly wonderings to himself in the absence of any evidence at all to support those wonderings.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 12:51 a.m.

Peter, 3 women have been "molested" and the only culprit so far is a city licensed taxi driver. So the solution to close down the non city-licensed competition who has yet to be blamed for a crime is what smells like McCarthyism. I made it clear I wasn't accusing him of taking money. But I find his desire to blame and punish innocent people without due process to be frightening and McCarthy like. .

Hesh Breakstone

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 7:54 p.m.

Epstein said "And I don't think a model takes precedence over people's livelihoods, and people not driving home drunk or walking home and risking assault." It's the "risking assault" part that as of recently no cab client may feel as secure in A2 as they once did with three reported sexual assaults resulting from cab rides.... My hats off to the city for the crack down and as is always seemingly the case when one fishes with a net there may be unintended consequences... In the previous articles regarding the assaults Blue Cab made a huge point out of letting the community know that in their view they were not responsible in that they lease the cabs to independent contractors. Attempts at shielding the organization from liability rubbed me the wrong way when the appropriate thing to do was to act, what ever it takes, to ensure that riders of Blue Cabs will be safe and sound in the future... So Blue Cab which is it? Are we to not do business with you because your priorities were mitigation of corporate liability when it should have been concern for the victims AND corrective action, in-house corrective action to restore the safety of Blue Cabs. Or are we not to do business with Blue Cab now knowing that the drivers are independent contractors with very little vetting to determine if these folks are not criminals? If I were to take a cab I would want to know that someone with decent judgment... had vetted the drivers for more things than a past driving record... Like it or not some regulations are important.

Dog Guy

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 7:34 p.m.

The Ann Arbor Taxicab Board and taxicab ordinance increase AATA ridership.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 7:26 p.m.

Part 2 My husband and I spend, on average, over $200 each weekend downtown on dinner and dancing. We refuse to drive after having drinks -- the end result of your actions will be to stop us, and our friends, from patronizing DownTown Ann Arbor business. Rather than be stranded downtown, late at night and in the cold, we will just stay home. We never drink and drive and over the years we have taken more than 100 "Limo" cab rides home; we are well-known to many of these drivers, we tip well, and only 1 -- out of more than 100 rides -- has ever tried to "over-charge" us. All have had meters, are clean (cleaner than the city cabs!), polite, and safe. Every six months or so, in a fit of "local" business guilt we have TRIED to arrange a city cab -- never, ever, have they indicated less than a 45 minute - 1 hour wait -- and then often don't show up at ALL. Do not forget that the "city" cabs also are contracted with the AATA to provide cab services for the disabled, senior, and Night Service programs. Those programs are CLEARLY the "city cab" priorities, because they provide slow, day-time business. There is NO incentive for the "city" cabs to add additional vehicles for the Th - Sat night spike in demand for just a few hours. Our fair city's downtown businesses -- any that serve alcohol, and every non-profit group that holds fundraisers that do -- absolutely need these "limo" providers to meet the demands of their patrons. I can say for certain, that if my husband and I are not able to arrange or hail a taxi or "limo" in a reasonable amount of time, in the dark and cold....we will not continue to frequent downtown Ann Arbor. These people you want to leave out inthe cold, by choosing to be aggressive and combative with State Licensed "limos" are the very tax-paying, Downtown resturant and dancing facilites, and fundraising patrons of the arts, and charities, that are creating


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 10:51 p.m.

LDR to regulate limos more and decrease their number (those that do not follow Ann Arbor's regulations or who are not licensed at all) will give the licensed taxi cab companies the ability to add to their fleets. I have used taxis many times and have never had a 2 hour wait. I think the longest I've waited has been 30-45 minutes after a football game. I will not ride in a limo. I made that mistake once and only once. I only use licensed taxis

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 7:43 p.m.

Nicely stated but I don't think he cares. He doesn't have the citizens of Ann Arbor as his concern he is a special interest politician.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 7:25 p.m.

Mr. Kunselman and Taxicab Board members, will you come pick my husband and I up on Friday evening after we attend the Vintage Hollywood IV event at the Michigan Theater, a fundraiser for Ann Arbor's Neutral Zone?!? We are middle-aged adults and will be wearing formal wear, including a gown and heels, tux, etc. The after party will finish up at LIVE around 2 AM. I'm sure we will be able to call a city cab and have them pick us up in a prompt matter -- NOT. We live just a few blocks past the official "measured mile" markers on Miller Road and we will be sure you won't "over-charge" us. I'm sure YOU won't leave us standing in the cold for an hour at 2 AM and then just never show up -- because you will have enough "city" cabs to take 200 + folks home on Friday night. Never mind anyone else going to something different, or just dining, or dancing, downtown! Last week we were very grateful and delighted to be able to find a licensed "limo" to take us home after the Ann Arbor Art Center's Artini Martini crawl. That had only 500 participants--was there ANY "city" cab company able to provide enough vehicles for the demand of that event?. I am outraged that, instead of cooperating and encouraging, state licensed limo cabs to come to Downtown Ann Arbor during Thurs-Sat. evenings and early morning hours -- when our city cab companies have CLEARLY stated they do NOT have enough vehicles to meet the demand --you are choosing instead to be combative, encouraging nonsense fines for not "pre-arranging" state licensed folks, and driving these badly needed, and very cost-effective solutions to the problem of a "Destination" Downtown in a small city!!


Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 9:53 a.m.

Bingo! LDR, you said it all! Thank you!

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 7:13 p.m.

Wasn't Jimmy Hoffa last seen alive in a limo? I'm not sure if that suggests they are safe, or otherwise. Just sayin'.

Real Life

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 6:57 p.m.

If the State already has licensure for similar or overlapping businesses, why do we have speparate and redundant Taxi regulations and a Taxi Commission? We have money for that and Mr. Kunselman's salary? We live in an over regulated world as it is, and these sorts of bureaucratic turf battles prop up monopoly pricing and are fiercely anti-consumer and anti-competitive.

Elliott Snow

Sat, Mar 2, 2013 : 11:45 p.m.

I agree. I have come to feel the people of Michigan might be much better off if al local taxi licensing schemes were eliminated and taxi licensing was all done b ythe State, just as "limo" licensing is done. This would improve citizen access to taxis everywhere in Michigan. And cut city costs too, to offset the loss of revenue. Which I doubt is that substantial. How much does the City of Ann Arbor actually gain from taxi licensing fees?


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 6:50 p.m.

This article fails to mention, Yellow Cab become a limo co. because the city put on cap on taxi fares that made it not possible for Taxi drivers to not support their families. Yellow Car drug tests their drivers. This is more to say than some of the "taxi" companies in town.

Marilyn Moran

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 1:23 a.m.

Actually, cab fares run on a meter cost more than the flat rates Yellow charges. I go to Krogers on Maple from downtown several times a month and on the meter it runs $10 or $10.50; Yellow flat rates it for $9. -- The reason YC became a "limo" co was so they could pick up fares at Metro, or anywhere for that matter. I don't think going limo has proved very profitable for them, however.

Basic Bob

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 8:25 p.m.

Maybe one of the other council members will suggest a living wage. Kunselman is more concerned with keeping the streets clear of limos and derelict BMW's.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 6:29 p.m.

I've said it before and I will say it again. Yellow Car is not a "scab" out of town Limo service. They have been an Ann Arbor for 30 plus years. Just because they changed their name doesn't change the fact that they are a local company. Mr Stanton you better hope the city council doesn't decide to tell the newspapers that they have to licensed by the city and use the city ordered rate to sell the paper. Because I worked for the old Ann Arbor News before you became Because according to the city reasoning would be a unlicensed scab newspaper, and therefore a danger to the citizens of Ann Arbor. Whether Yellow Car or Cab it is a local business and shouldn't be treated with suspect by the city that could rightly go to the out of town limo services who have no reputation or business record within Ann Arbor to go on.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 4:54 p.m.

So they are upset because the city is finally following the law/code that has already been in effect? Stop your whining, if you can't make a living being a "taxi" then it isn't a viable business. Skirting the law is not the answer.


Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 9:47 a.m.

That, UpperDecker, is why we need our laws to be reasonable rather than idiotically arbitrary. Give me reasonable laws to follow, I am an obeying machine. But being forbidden to take someone who is flagging down your vehicle for a ride and instead blow past them just because? C'mon!!


Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 8:07 a.m.

I never saw a bigger bunch of Scofflaw Cheapskates in my Life! U bunch of Chislers Pay uP or get out!


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 6:20 p.m.

Agreed, but they were aware of the restrictions I imagine when starting the taxi company. Once the expenses (gas/whatever else) increase beyond what you KNOW you can make then it is time to either attempt to enact change with the policy or restructure/close your business. Restructuring the business and then ignoring the rules is I guess another option, but you forfeit your chance to complain when you get caught.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 5:59 p.m.

"... if you can't make a living being a "taxi" then it isn't a viable business...." that is a flawed premise if the Government controls your income but not your expenses.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 4:22 p.m.

I don't miss the days when you had to call one of the 2 cab companies and wait an hour for your I can hail a cab/limo within 5 minutes.I really like that.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.'s like living in a real city.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 4:20 p.m.

What a WEEPY MESS!!! The Regulations and Laws must be for the Other People...Not me. For the Scab Limo Companies who want to dictate/De-Regulate and manipulate the price of fares as they see fit,use some alternative low cost insurance substitute designed for another industry altogether and attempt to taylor it to this industry due to your Budget desires-I say if the Waters too hot-GET OUT ! Uncle Drunkles Mini Van with NO METER in it is NOT a TAXI....At least not anymore!


Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 8:03 a.m.

IF Success were to smile on you that day,and you were very Lucky then YES I could be your LEGITIMATE TAXI Driver=Yup the Legal one!


Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 12:07 a.m.

Are you an example of what one get's when one orders a taxi?

Seasoned Cit

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 3:45 p.m.

How about some background information on the difference in licensing fees between the limos and cabs? I'm guessing that Yellow Cab/Car switched 2 years ago for a reason. What's the City charge for a Cab license... and What does the State charge for Limo license?

C.C. Ingersoll

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 8:57 p.m.

There is a reason Yellow Cab changed to "Yellow Car" -- it's because the taxi rates are set by city law. Every year when the price of gas fluctuates up and down by 1$ or more the only way to compensate drivers is to BEG the city board to change the law; then 3 months later you have to beg the board to change the law again when the price changes again. Obviously the city doesn't have the time to spend doing this. Yellow Cab stopped using it's taxi meters (*which are set by the city and locked so the taxi companies can't change/mess with the rates) it legally had to change it's name to be a "Car Service" and not a "Taxi Service". Instead of using the taxi meters which charge by the mile and by the minute the company takes your order over the phone, calculates the mileage and tells you the price BEFORE you enter the cab. Simple and easy.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 5:51 p.m.

Oh yes, heaven forbid that a business in the United States have the temerity to actually charge their customers their own prices rather than have them dictated by the government. Vladimir Lenin must be rolling in his grave!


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.

Actually THE INSURANCE is the far BIGGER Issue-Why pay for Acutal TAXI insurance and run regulated rates when you can scab around unregulated and charge people whatever you want?


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 4:18 p.m.

Again, the reason for switching has nothing to do with licensing costs. The issue is companies having the freedom to set their own prices rather than being forced to charge what the city of Ann Arbor dictates


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 3:21 p.m.

This ordinance does nothing to stop sexual assaults. As has been pointed out numerous times, the only driver charged in these alleged assaults was employed by an Ann Arbor licensed cab company, not a limo. So there goes that rationale. What this ordinance does is take away choices for consumers. Since Yellow Car has far more vehicles on the road than any single company, that means far less chances of flagging a cab down on a busy night since they are no longer permitted to stop for someone hailing a cab. Any of you who have tried to hail a cab on a busy Friday night at closing time know how difficult it can be. Well now because of this ordinance it's going to get a whole lot harder. Look I much prefer to use Yellow Car. My experience over many years is that their vehicles are cleaner, and their drivers are more professional, courteous, and friendly than any of the other cabs I've used. It should be my right as a consumer and citizen of this city to get into any empty yellow car that might be driving by, instead of being told by an Ann Arbor cop that I'm forbidden from doing so because I didn't call for a reservation. With the increased difficulty in hailing cabs now we should also expect to see more drunk drivers on the road as a result. So congratulations Mr Kunselman. Rather than making the city safer from sexual assaults, you've increased the danger of being killed by a drunk driver. Ann Arbor city government at its finest once again.

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 1:25 a.m.

its part of the plan they wanted more drunk drivers when they banned overnight parking.

Basic Bob

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 8:22 p.m.

To make matters worse, the taxi driver was charged with assault. Not sexual assault. Chasing out limo drivers does nothing to stop a rapist. For all we know, the alleged sexual assaults were committed by a pizza delivery guy.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 3:11 p.m.

I am the former owner of Custom Transit. I believe that there is a substantial amount of ignorance about this issue, both by our elected officials and the general public, as well as a good amount of potentially purposeful disinformation on this comment board. Back in 2007, there were very few Limos trolling the streets of Ann Arbor looking for pick-ups. At that time, it was suggested to the Taxi Board that it allow dual licensed limos and cabs. The reason for this request is simple: under the State of Michigan's limo law, taxi cabs cannot legally flat-rate a fare to Metro Airport, perhaps the most lucrative piece of business in Ann Arbor. Several Ann Arbor taxi cabs have received fines from the State of Michigan in excess of $500 for flat rating to the airport in a taxi. I cannot speak to why Yellow Car switched to limousine licenses, but it would not surprise me if it was this single issue. The Ann Arbor Taxi Board ignores this issue, and says its not their interpretation of the State of Michigan's limousine law that a taxicab cannot flat rate to the airport. Additionally, the Taxi Board and the Ann Arbor Police Department both said at a Taxi Board meeting that they did not think the Ann Arbor Police Department was capable of enforcing a dual use statute. What kind of sad commentary is that on our public officials? The insurance requirements for being a limousine at double what they are for an Ann Arbor taxi. The State requires that every limousine undergo a rigorous annual inspection by a licensed mechanic. The inspection is not a trivial matter with respect to limousines. To get an Ann Arbor Taxi license, the mechanical inspection is a police officer walking around your car, once, making sure none of the body panels are dragging on the ground. The State does a better job of insuring a safe vehicle. The city does a better job of screening the drivers (the State does not run a background check for limousine drivers). This begs for dual licensing.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 6:25 p.m.

I worked at an AA hotel during this time and you are correct. I bet the flat rate still doesn't help Yellow because hotel employees don't like them. A) You never know if your getting a newer cab or old trash(Same for the drivers) B) limo drivers ALWAYS tip the staff- Yellow drivers feel entitled to the fare.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 4:20 p.m.

Your comments make sense. So what we are talking about is a small change to allow Taxi's to flat rate to Metro or elsewhere? I would think this would be a slam dunk after three assaults.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 3:09 p.m.

Am I the only one who does not undrstand Yellow's hypocrisy? They keep saying that the a2 taxi situation is so bad that they need to be licensed as limos... but they don't want anybody coming in from out of town and doing the exact same thing? If it's good for the goose....


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 3:02 p.m.

Unlike Ann Arbor, Sheriff Deputies at Metro used to harass, fine, and or tow away any "trollers". Their local cab/limo territory was very "secure" and had little competition. It was later agreed that Ann Arbor taxis (Yellow Cab) could also pick up pre-arranged fares at the airport. And they were asked who they were waiting for. Later, if the name didn't match the passenger's drivers got reamed.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 3:01 p.m.

Am I the only one who does not undrstand Yellow's hypocrisy? They keep saying that the a2 taxi situation is so bad that they need to be licensed as limos... but they don't want anybody coming in from out of town and doing the exact same thing? If it's good for the goose....


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 2:34 p.m.

Another thing that should be noted is that this heavy penalty is placed 100% on the drivers. If somebody works for Yellow Car it is they--not the company--who is penalized. The effect on the company is virtually zero.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 2:30 p.m.

What would actually be the best course of action would be to mete out the bad risks from the good citizens among limo drivers. On one hand you have these shady unmarked personal cars-with-toplights that sometime charge people $40 for a two-block ride. On the opposite end of the spectrum you have Yellow Car, with its vast database and accountability system in place, as well as other limos (Big House Ride, Green Light Transportation) that are one-car operations but operate with integrity and care for their clientele.

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 1:16 a.m.

nice plug


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 1:59 p.m.

"Limousine drivers that come into our community and troll up and down our streets looking for fares is a violation of our taxicab ordinance." If limo drivers don't like the ordinance, they should work to change the ordinance instead of operating unlawfully. How can this be more clear?


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 11:58 p.m.

I don't think the city has been very responsive to car companies. Perhaps this is what instigated the change to limos in the first pace.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 1:29 p.m.

Crack down on these scofflaw taxi drivers! They need proper licensing (and the fees that go with it) to insure the safety of our citizens. These laws and regulations are vital to the proper operation of a safe society. People don't seem to understand this is for their own protection and safety. It has nothing to do with larger government or more control over their lives. I'm sure they don't understand, but that's OK. That's why we elect government officials to look out for our best interests and I am thankful for their oversight and protection. As a matter of fact I would pay higher tax cab fees and more taxes to insure that nothing bad ever happens to one more person in a tax cab.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 11:57 p.m.

And is that why, Mike, that the only person charged to date has been a cab driver, not a limo driver? Explain how what you propose makes a fare safer? Limo drivers are already licensed by the state. They also have standards they must meet. As for Kunselman looking out for our best interests, I doubt it.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 5:04 p.m.

For those of you who can't read between the lines...............we have too much regulation. Even being a taxi driver means you will be burdened with unnecessary regulation and cost.............and of course have to pass that along to the paying public (not 1%ers by the way, they don't take taxis)


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.

Please explain to me how companies paying fees to the city of Ann Arbor are safer than companies paying fees to the state of Michigan.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 2:54 p.m.

I signed in just to upvote this. I'm sorry it doesn't have more, because you said it far better than I could. Too bad no one has so far gotten the....gist...of your post.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.

"walking home and risking assault" Why do that when you can combine a limo ride with your assault?


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 11:54 p.m.

As you well know, the only person charged to date was driven by a cab.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 2:23 p.m.

I would assume when examining the percentages, almost all women (and men) would choose the ride over the walk home if concerned they might get assaulted. Not even close.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 1:13 p.m.

Billy, the city license fee is about $50 per vehicle. Not exactly a huge expense. Once again you need to get your facts straight


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 3:26 p.m.

I think you misunderstood my point. Bill's argument was that Yellow changed their operation because they didn't want to pay the city fee. My point is that the changeover most likely cost more than the $50 per vehicle which would render this assumption invalid

Lets Get Real

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 2:08 p.m.

Michigan's laws are out of the realm of sense (i.e. the liquor laws that prohibit a brewery owner from owning a distillery or a brew pub - excuse me?) So the comparative question is can a state licensed limo also be licensed as a city owned cab? And thanks Skyjockey, for deciding what is "not exactly a huge expense" for a transportation company on top of all of their other costs - i.e. repair & maintenance of the vehicles, fuel, dispatch equipment, operation facilities, insurance, payroll, employer's FICA & SS contribution, worker's comp, personal property tax, property tax (if they own their facility or have a triple net), among others. I'm sure an additional $50 per vehicle is a welcome expense? Not. I don't think this is a business where anyone is making gazillions of dollars. And, I don't think the purpose here is to put them out of business, is it?

Concerned Party

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 1:02 p.m.

Finally, now if they would impound them when catch them that would be great. Legit taxis would be more than happy to add more cars!


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 11:52 p.m.

Drive for Blue Cab, do you? You sound a bit malicious.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

Yellow Car has been doing this illegally for a WHILE now....pretty much ever since they changed their name. It's pretty sad that it took 3 sexual assaults for the city to FINALLY crack down on this problem. How about Yellow Car PAYS the licensing fees they're supposed to so they can be bonded in this city? That's all they'd have to do...

Elliott Snow

Sat, Mar 2, 2013 : 11:35 p.m.

Concerned Party, billybobstaxi, the "Pay to Play" line is just dumb, as State licensed cars do "pay to play" - they just pay the State fees instead of the City fees, which may just be part of the City's issue with'limos' - loss of fee revenue. The City is saying, among other things, "Why do you want to set your own rates to cover your costs, when you can let us set your rates and make less money"?

Joslyn at the U

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 12:03 p.m.

Can you say Blue Cab? Who is actually located in ypsilanti on ecorse almost wayne county actually

Elliott Snow

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 5:18 a.m.

The fact is,Yellow or any other limo operator COULD be offered "taxi permits" by the City, which they would have to pay for of course. But the fact is, the City refuses to do this. This is what is meant by "dual licensing". It's also a fact that Ann Arbor has in the past has sold taxi permits to limo licensed operators, but for reasons they are not stating, will not do this now. Of course if they still did offer these, the City would "Know who these drivers are", and Mr. Kunselman would not be able to use the phony "safety issue" to promote himself politically with this campaign against limos. The fact is, Ann Arbor's walk-up customers are often underserved; the City's current policies guarantee this situation will continue and possibly get worse.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 4:51 p.m.

Pay to Play-That simple-LGR is a little dreamy,in an uniformed kind of way..


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 4:22 p.m.

LGR, your imaginary free market is a fairy tale. Consumers don't have, and can't get perfect price information. We can't access the rates of every taxi or limo company in town each time we need a ride. This is even more true for out-of-town taxi customers.

Lets Get Real

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

Play by the rules the city sets? The price fixing rules? For most small businesses, if costs increase - so do the prices they charge. (Been to the grocery store recently or the gas station?) If the cabs costs increase, and they have to wait for the Taxi Board to take action to increase fares to cover the increasing cost of fuel, they'll go broke waiting for action. Setting fees that are commensorate with costs and service is fair, and if state licensing can do that for them, I certainly understand their decision to change. They are still licensed - just not by the Kingdom of Kunselman keeping the serfs pay "under control" They are so worried about overcharging - really? Let the customer decide what is fair. Comparison shopping on their smart phones will determine the fair price through supply and demand. We don't need Kunselman to tell us what the service is worth. I bet those people who waited for more than an hour in 20 degree weather will make their own decision about what is fair. And, just to be clear - Yellow Car is not the company that employed the driver that assaulted the girl. Maybe having "pre-ordered" limos waiting at your establishment for your patrons would be a welcome strategy and still meet the letter of the rule stipulating that limos can't cruise for customers.

Concerned Party

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 1:13 p.m.

Right on! Play by the rules. That's why they are there.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 12:42 p.m.

Obviously what has happened, as usual, is a few bad apples spoiling it for everyone. The taxi business is changing, though, with smartphone apps like Uber turning limo drivers into on-demand taxi drivers. Ann Arbor should embrace the change, because it would mean more drivers and better service, but probably won't because the bidding system runs afoul with the taxi commision's desire to keep rates down.

Concerned Party

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 1:12 p.m.

Über limos are very different than the limos pretending to be taxis. Also Über rates are more than City's rates.

Martha Cojelona Gratis

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 12:38 p.m.

Will this lead to less assaults in cabs around the city? If so I am for it but if not, I would hate for this to ruin the livelihood of some.

Joslyn at the U

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 11:56 a.m.

0 = Zero effect


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

Actually it will have absolutely zero effect on assaults. Limo drivers have to submit to criminal background checks just like cab drivers.

Concerned Party

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 1:10 p.m.

Yes. I reduces the risk of unknown drivers and cabs. You just need a top light to pick up in Ann Arbor because drunk kids will get into anything. Top lights are $80 on Amazon. This is the danger.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 12:21 p.m.

One of the biggest reasons why so many cab companies are switching over to a limo model is that, as cabs, they are not allowed to charge their own rates. They are forced to charge what the city of Ann Arbor chooses regardless of fluctuations in gas prices which obviously is the biggest cost associated with a transportation company. Limos also charge flat per mile fares rather than meter fares for cabs which are a combination of mileage and time.

Joslyn at the U

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 11:52 a.m.

JrW once again I will say this. Taxis /limos are NOT a public utility. They are privately owned businesses. And unless you built it who are you to regulate it hmmmmmm?


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 11:48 p.m.

@jrw - It's hard to make a living as a cab driver. The federal government was more responsive in increasing its rates when gas went up than the city was. Yes, the board should prevent gouging. But when you have a group on a board that apparently knows nothing about driving a cab - not a single driver on it as far as I can see - you have a problem.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 5:14 p.m.

JRW your argument flies in the face of reason and basic capitalist principals. Businesses change their prices all the time based on fluctuations in their costs. Right now your average restaurant dinner check is increasing due to the rising food costs. Also in this country you pay different prices for differing qualities of goods and services. Do you believe that the city of Ann Arbor should dictate that The Gandy Dancer should charge the same amount for their seafood as Red Lobster? Aanative you are correct about other cities operating the same way as Ann Arbor. but since when does the status quo automatically mean its the right thing to do. And the city doesn't regulate the fares. They actually dictate the only allowable price that companies are allowed to charge. If you truly believe that government should force business to charge what the government dictates rather than economic forces, then perhaps you'd be happier setting up a business in a country such as North Korea


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 3:04 p.m.

Skyjockey: that is the operaional model of taxis n municipalities all over the nation. It's not as if Ann Arbor was the only one regulating fares.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.

Gas prices go up and down. Having costs regulated is important so people aren't gouged. Limos can charge whatever they want, which is part of the problem. My experience with limos is that they are more expensive.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 12:16 p.m.

So far the only person caught attacking women is a licensed by the city cab driver? Yet Mr. Kunselman insists they are the "safe ones"? His stance is so full of illogical hypocrisy that it makes me wonder if brown paper bags of cash are involved. I'm not alleging any wrong doing mind you, I'm just trying to understand why he insists the city licensed criminals are safer than the criminals with unknown licensing.

Joslyn at the U

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 3:56 a.m.

He wants to be mayor craig so he's looking for a devil to kill lol


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 11:38 p.m.

@concerned party - I know of several cab drivers who have quit because they wound up owing the cab company money at the end of the day. For you to claim that one can make a good living at driving a cab is ridiculous. And your claim of $300 a night? A fantasy.

Reverend Bubba X

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 4:22 p.m.

Is logical hypocrisy preferrable?


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 4:17 p.m.

Your post is not logical either. One of three worked for a city cab company, and the fact that he worked for a licensed cab company may well be how he was identified. The city licenses taxis to help protect customers from being overcharged.

Concerned Party

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 1:22 p.m.

It's the ease of impersonating a limo that is the real danger. Just get a top light put it on your black Lincoln and you can make $300 a night. How knows if they have a limo license at all. The limo signifier is a small yellow sticker. 1" x 1.5". If you are on the curb you will never see it till your in the car. Too late? I don't believe the city can say yes too yellow and no too others. The whole issue of gas an money is bs. I use 10 gallons of gas a night. If it goes up .20 it cost me $2.00 more a night. This reason is a joke. It is too screw the insurance company. Now the question would the insurance company pay a claim on a limo that is operating like a taxi. Legit drivers do quite well in Ann Arbor.

Concerned Party

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

They r the trackball ones. Th others no one knows were they come from or go back to.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 12:51 p.m.

That's a fair point to raise, but let me give a little more background for this discussion. Kunselman has been vocal about this issue for some time, and the reported sexual assaults on Jan. 23 and Feb. 3 prompted him to speak out again at a Feb. 4 council meeting about companies operating without city taxicab licenses and still acting like taxis. His concern was that this made it difficult to identify who the drivers were. "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. I believe it wasn't until Feb. 13 that a city-licensed cab driver from Blue Cab was charged in connection with an incident that happened Feb. 10. Here's that story: Even though a city-licensed cab driver is the only person to be charged so far, Kunselman said he stands by his previously stated position and he will continue to advocate for a well-regulated taxi industry in Ann Arbor to protect the safety of residents. Of course, in this article you have Yellow Car drivers making a counterargument that the city's hardline stance on this matter is leaving people without rides home from the bar, with some speculation that it might lead to outcomes like more people driving drunk. There's certainly a good discussion to be had about all of this.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 11:49 a.m.

Ryan, has Yellow Cab/taxi given a reason why they changed their business to Yellow Car/limosine? Was it to get around having to deal with the City's taxi ordinance requirements in the first place?

Elliott Snow

Sat, Mar 2, 2013 : 11:24 p.m.

No-one but the owners of Yellow know exactly why they went from City-licensed cabs to State licensed limos. The Cab Board policy of sitting on fare rates I believe was one reason. Or it may have been "the straw that broke the camel's back", on top of other conflicts. However the actual name change was dictated by the City, who told all limo-licensed operators they were not allowed to have the words "cab"or "taxi" in their names. That was the beginning of their attempt to define the difference between "cabs" and"limos",prior to this "crackdown on limos". However, local taxicab licensing schemes area bad idea in my view; any little town wants to have their own and collect their own fees. For example, Ypsilanti has their own licensing process and fees. Thus an Ann Arbor licensed taxicab cannot pick up within the Ypsi city limits if it is not also Ypsi licensed. But the licensing there costs about $100. per car per year; so if a company has 15 cars, that is $1,500/year the company loses to"licensing fees". And the Ypsi business does not justify the extra cost. At one time Saline had it's own licensing scheme also, but"SALINE CAB" had, I believe, ONE cab who usually worked in Ann Arbor, where the customers were. For awhile there, any resident of Saline couldn't readily get a cab because Ann Arbor companies would not register there, so they could not legally pick up there. This kind of situation is endemic in the Greater Detroit Metro area. With State licensing, a car can pick up anywhere in Michigan. The citizens of Michigan would be better off if all local taxi licensing schemes were eliminated and all taxicab licensing was done by the State, just as limo licensing is done.

Joslyn at the U

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 11:47 a.m.

sorry JRW but the fact is Dave Reed the owner of yellow got sick of the taxi cab board being of the mind that they can run his company , regulate his drivers income, and generally he just got tired of the taxi cab board being incompetent


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 8:31 p.m.

JRW the reason it is being voted down is because it is not a fact whatsoever. City license fees are a tiny fraction of cab operating expenses. The major expense is fuel. And the reason Yellow changed to a limo operation is because the city was being tight fisted refusing to let them raise their rates when fuel prices spiked. This information not only comes straight from David Reid, the company president, but it also makes far more sense than this ridiculous city fee argument that keeps being presented by someone who claims to have first hand knowledge.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

"I have direct personal knowledge that the reason for the name change was to avoid paying the city licensing fees." Who is voting down this comment? It's a statement of fact, not an opinion. Must be some limo drivers on the board today.

Concerned Party

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

Lower insurance. The real joke is on the insurance companies. Changed to a limo and operate as a taxi. Some one at the insurance company is sleeping.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 1:02 p.m.

You answered your own question. I have direct personal knowledge that the reason for the name change was to avoid paying the city licensing fees.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

Elliott Snow, one of the Yellow Car drivers quoted in this story, said in a recent email to the City Council the Taxicab Board actually has been a major contributor to bringing about the situation Stephen Kunselman complains about. He said it was the board's attempts to "micromanage taxicab fare rates" at a time when gas prices were spiking that led Yellow Car to drop its city license. "The city's board would not allow Ann Arbor's licensed taxicabs to compensate for rising gas prices by raising fare rates or even temporarily surcharging during gas price spikes," he said. "This kind of paternalism by the cab board endangers the ability of any transportation company to stay in business, or at least for the drivers to make a decent living." With the flexibility offered by state licensing as a limo company, Snow said Yellow Car's rates are probably about 50 to 75 cents higher on average per trip than a city-licensed taxicab now.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 12:29 p.m.

One of the reasons cited is reduced insurance costs. Another reason cited is the city's strict regulations regarding taxicab fare rates. Yellow Car wasn't happy that the city wouldn't let the rates fluctuate or keep pace with changing gas prices, and it switched to a state-licensed limo model right around the time that debate was being had in May 2011. Although, the City Council did concur with the Taxicab Board's 25-cent rate increase in May 2011 in light of rising gas prices.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 12:18 p.m.

I think your question was the answer. I recall one complaint was the city controlled fairs and was unresponsive to changes in the price of gas making it difficult for a cab driver to earn a living. .


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 11:41 a.m.

Obviously there has been a failure somewhere by the city regulators as nearly the entire industry in A2 including the biggest can operator has been forced to doing business in this under ground way as a "limo". Instead of looking at what caused this and attempting to make a better business climate for operators who want to come in and serve the public to get home from their nights out, city council just continues to try to force their outdated business regulations onto the industry instead of looking for a solution. Who loses? Everyone: the drivers, bar goers forced into the cold, and the general public is put at risk when those bar goers realize there is nobody to take them safely home and they head to the roads. Great job

Elliott Snow

Sat, Mar 2, 2013 : 10:59 p.m.

Concerned Party, I do not see where "Yellow" claimed there were 45 minute waits on some night? I believe I was quoted correctly by Ryan, that on the first Friday night after the "gypsies" left town, Yellow had about 45 car requests still in the computer at 3AM, something that had not happened in about 2 years or since the "gypsies" had been working Downtown in large numbers on weekends. I described this as an unusually high "call volume" for that time of night and attributed it to the absence of the trolling independent limos. I stick by my interpretation, but Yellow's view of it may be different. I do not represent or speak for Yellow.

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 12:55 a.m.

what caused this is republican michigan supreme court judges taking big bags of $ from ins co. to insure mi has highest rates in nation ,keep electing them idiot voters theve got a 5-2 majarity now maybe we can make it 7-0 next election.

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 12:49 a.m.

what caused this is insurance companies charging 5 grand a year to insure taxis

Stupid Hick

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 6:55 p.m.

@notnecessary: in my opinion the failure is that Yellow Car wants to have its cake and eat it too, and regulations haven't been enforced. They're not "forced" to do business as a limo company, I think they choose to do it because it's cheaper and easier, and they probably thought (correctly it seems) that there would be little enforcement.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 4:43 p.m.

Maybe the Enviorment is just fine-In fact maybe its one of the Friendliest and most Lucrative in the state-But even a GOOD thing can be ruined by the Ignorant..

Concerned Party

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 1:05 p.m.

Not true. I drive a cab and there was no 45 minute wait or more crowds than usually. Yellow is blowing that bit out of proportion. Think of the 4 kids that told me they were charged $60 from South U to Big House. Smart kids just ran away. This happened Saturday in a flagged limo. There is a problem out here and the statues have been abused.


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 11:25 a.m.

I remember riding in Yellow Cab cabs as a child, being shuffled between parents. Yellow Car, as it's called now, is a company that I have trust in, they have served Ann Arbor well for many years. Their decision to become a limo service in 2011 is now coming back to bite them now that these assaults have happened. I think that Yellow Car, with it being a reputable company with a long standing history here, should be grandfathered into being able to pick up fares until this thing is sorted out. It makes sense that we should allow companies to hold both limo and cab licenses if they choose to do so. That would give them the best of both worlds as far as business growth goes.

Joslyn at the U

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 3:51 a.m.

Jen the creator of this mess is the taxicab board which strted this movement under the miguided leadership of Tom Crawford. And I'm sorry jen but the taxi board isn't that smart


Thu, Feb 28, 2013 : 1:11 p.m.

Actually Billy you need to get your facts straight. Yellow Car has only been operating as limos for the past two years. Before that they operated as taxi cabs under the Yellow Cab banner. Select Ride is the parent company that owns Yellow Car, Arbor Limousines, and Custom Transit. And most people in this city,including myself, would say that Yellow Car is a very reputable company.