Starting Nov. 1, Neosho will have two taxi services, as the Neosho City Council granted approval for another cab service during a special session Wednesday evening.

Starting Nov. 1, Neosho will have two taxi services, as the Neosho City Council granted approval for another cab service during a special session Wednesday evening.

Citing they did not want to restrict trade, the council granted approval to an application submitted by Melvin and Peggy Farmer for a certificate of public convenience and necessity for operation of a taxicab service.

The couple measure was originally to go to the council during its regular session Sept. 15, however, city staff did not publish a notice of public hearing nor notify the owner of Neosho’s other cab service, Rebecca Brand, of the application as required. Brand owns Hey Taxi, which has been in business for 3 ½ years.

“We would like to run the company in the city limits, out of the city limits and out of the four-state area, within a 100 mile radius,” Peggy Farmer told the council.

Farmer said her cab service would offer a 15-passenger van equipped with a wheelchair lift, as well as two other vehicles. She said she and her husband, who currently drives a truck for Sitton Motor Lines, would provide a 24-hour, seven day a week cab service, with special medical rates. She said she would also provide the service to Crowder College students needing transportation to area stores and other destinations, and would provide hot food delivery for a fee plus the cost of food.

Speaking against the certificate was Kevin Foster, who said Hey Taxi provided much of the same services as the Farmers would offer, with the exception of wheelchair accessibility. He and Brand said agencies such as OATS provides transportation for handicapped individuals.

“OATS told me that only three vans out of their fleet do not have wheelchair access,” Brand said. “I don’t see the need for another taxi service.”

When questioned about the OATS service by council member Heather Bowers, Brand said OATS ceases taking people to appointments and on other errands at 3 p.m.

“There is no night service for people in wheelchairs,” Brand said. “Medicalodge does have wheelchair access for their patients and can transport them to Freeman [Hospital]. There is a service through Freeman’s at night.”

“I have a real problem with the restriction of trade,” said council member Warren Langland. “It’s somewhat of the same problem I had with the liquor licenses. On the other hand, we are bound by the ordinance, and we must follow that. If we want to change that, then it’s a different situation. But on the other hand, I question if there is enough business to go around or are we going to jeopardize a service that’s already established. I would like to hear more conversation.”

Echoing Langland’s thoughts, Mayor Pro Tem Richard Davidson said he understood the need “not to flood the market” with taxi services, but indicated he favored issuing the certificate to the Farmers.

“In this country, competition is a good thing,” he said. “I have a concern with limiting and restricting what people can do. Fortunately, I don’t have anybody in a wheelchair, but if someone in a wheelchair wants to go to Wal-Mart at night, I don’t see why not.”

Mayor Jeff Werneke said it was difficult for the council to make a determination one way or other without being privy to financial information, the number of calls run, and other information.

“We might as well run a city taxi service, and we don’t want to do that,” he said. “I don’t know what successes or failures Hey Taxi has had, and for me to judge that would be unfair. They may be extremely successful, or they may not.”

Using his and other council members’ businesses as examples, Werneke wondered where the city drew the line as far as restricting trade.

“When do we limit the number of hamburger places, or concrete block places?” he asked. “I don’t know if the council needs to judge the number of places that can sell concrete, or pallets or milk.”
Werneke owns Neosho Box and Wood, while Langland is owner of Neosho Concrete and council member Matt Persinger has a Hiland Dairy franchise.

The council then approved the measure unanimously.