Royal Cab buys two county taxi services Deal adds 35 cars, raises fleet size to 385

June 03, 1996|By Alec Matthew Klein | Alec Matthew Klein,SUN STAFF

Royal Cab Association Inc., the city's second-largest taxi service, has acquired two Baltimore County cab companies, adding 35 cars to its fleet.

Monarch Taxi Association Inc., a subsidiary of Royal, closed a deal for an undisclosed amount to buy Northpoint Cab Co., a family-owned business, and Emerald Cab Co. from proprietor William T. Maenner.

With the acquisition, Royal will command a fleet of about 385 permitted taxis out of 1,150 allotted in the city and 280 in the county, second only to Yellow Transportation, which runs more than 500 cabs.

"Our goal would be to create a good, solid business with the cabs that are there," Trish Kane, Royal's sales and marketing manager, said.

In the esoteric world of cabs, the deal will allow Royal to branch out. Here's how it works: Royal, as a city operator under taxi regulations, can pick up customers only in the city, unless it's a return ride on a round-trip fare. However, Royal's subsidiary, Monarch, was formed as a Baltimore County cab operator, which allows it to oversee the 35 newly acquired cabs that serve primarily eastern Baltimore County.

The deal doesn't mean pedestrians will suddenly be awash in cabs, the scarce numbers of which tend to orbit around local hotels. But through economies of scale and computer-aided dispatching, the company hopes to provide faster, more efficient service over more turf in Baltimore County.

Yet it's not quite that simple. The owners of Royal, including principals Daniel H. Setzer and John A. Hafford, are buying outright 24 permitted cabs from Northpoint. But in acquiring Emerald, the Royal owners are acquiring its 11-member cab force, not the actual permitted cabs.

The business works this way: Independent contractors -- cabbies -- pay Royal a daily or weekly fee to be "members" and receive Royal's services, which include dispatching, auto maintenance, car washes, insurance, sales and marketing, and renting Royal's 80-some cabs.

After paying Royal's fee, the drivers keep what's left of their tips and fares. (In the city, the initial "drop" costs $1.40, then about $1 per mile; in the county, the drop is $1.60, with the same subsequent mileage rate.)

For cabbies, their meters net them from $18,000 to $35,000 a year; for Royal, the numbers are even bigger with about 6,000 calls every weekday, more on weekends, from a mix of local residents, law firms, doctors' offices and tourists.

Pub Date: 6/03/96

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