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November 26, 2013

Peabody approves new taxi licenses

PEABODY — If there’s never a taxi around when you need one, help might be on the way.

The City Council has voted unanimously to increase the number of taxicab licenses in Peabody from 30 to 45. That followed testimony from two cab companies looking to add to their fleets.

“With three cars, it’s not very profitable for us,” said Carmine Gaeta of Sunshine Taxi during an appearance before the council’s Legal Affairs subcommittee. Sunshine sought 10 more licenses.

Igor Likterov of Tri-City Services, who asked for five more licenses, said more cabs won’t necessarily mean an overabundance of taxis driving in Peabody. “We all service several areas,” he said. “I’m doing business in other cities.” With more licenses, some of the cabs already on the road will be able pick up passengers in Peabody.

He also said it could be an environmentally sound policy. It could allow cabs from Salem to pick up passengers there, drop them in Peabody and then take passengers back from Peabody to Salem or, perhaps, to Danvers. Currently, some cabs must make the return trip empty because they haven’t the license to pick up passengers in Peabody.

Councilors saw no controversy. “These gentlemen tell us there is a need,” said Councilor Anne Manning Martin, who noted the additional vehicles will mean more in excise taxes for the city.

Finding the “green” argument compelling, Councilor Dave Gravel noted later, “I listened to the discussion, and I thought the reasons that they gave ... made a lot of sense.”

Councilor Dave Gamache said he’s recognized the need for an increase for some time. “They want to do a good business,” he said, gesturing to the cab owners. “And I think it would be great for the city.”

There were questions regarding how the new licenses would be distributed. Speaking after the meeting, Councilor Tom Gould said that the opportunity to purchase the new licenses would be advertised, with Sunshine and Tri-city likely to be first in line. The license cost varies from $35 to $50 depending on the size of the vehicle.

Alan Burke can be reached at aburke@salemnews.com.

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