DANVERS — Neil Papamechail of Peabody regularly uses taxicabs to get around the North Shore. But yesterday, he found himself stranded at Costco on Route 1 in Danvers, unable to get a ride.
After taking a cab to the store, Papamechail was unable to get a lift home after town officials cracked down on unlicensed taxi operations earlier this week.
“I ended up calling all four taxi companies, and they said they couldn’t help me,” said Papamechail, who is legally blind and has autism. “I ended up going on an unexpected six-mile walk.”
Danvers police conducted a sting Tuesday night and issued fines to several taxi companies that do not hold licenses to operate in town. It turns out that there are no such licensed operators, according to the town clerk’s office.
A patrolman and sergeant called the different taxi companies from the Liberty Tree Mall asking to be picked up. When the taxis arrived, police slapped each of the drivers with a $100 fine for not having a license, according to Sean McKinnon, general manager of North Shore Taxi in Peabody.
“We were told if they see us in Danvers, we would be pulled over and be fined again,” McKinnon said.
Taxis need a license only to pick someone up in town. They can legally pick up people in other communities and drop them off in Danvers without having a Danvers license, according to town bylaws.
McKinnon said his company has pulled the paperwork for a license, but it could take up to a month for him to obtain it. In the meantime, he said many of his customers are stranded, especially the elderly and those living in temporary housing at area motels.
He is hoping for a grace period from town officials until the licensure can be worked out.