Taxi company fills a need in Severna Park district Firm says it answers up to 50 calls a day in underserved area

August 18, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

For years, Severna Park residents who needed a taxicab had to call companies in either Annapolis or Glen Burnie and shell out an extra $5 or $10 for the added distance.

Now, they can catch a ride from a neighborhood cabbie.

Severna Park Taxi is up and running, serving residents of the greater Severna Park area, Crofton and Lake Shore.

"We just want to say, 'Hey, Severna Park, we're here to service you with a smile,' " said cabdriver Mick Brown. "That may sound corny, but that's what we want to do."

But some cab companies question whether there is a sufficient client base in the area to ensure a profit.

"You might get 10 trips a week out of Severna Park, if you're lucky," said Mike Holland, the manager of Yellow Checker Cab Inc. in Annapolis. "That's not enough to justify a company."

Try telling that to Eleanor Karr, who has called the new company four times. The 71-year-old Chartwood woman, who shares a vehicle with her husband, said she heard about the company from a friend at church.

Karr, who paid $7 for a trip to a nearby bank Friday, said she has enjoyed each of her cab rides. "They're clean, they're courteous and, so far, they've been on time," she said. "I think they're an asset, and it's been long needed around here."

The company is based in Millersville, at the northeast corner of Veterans Highway and Route 178. The office is modest, situated in an old chicken house next to Aloupis Rib Inn and Liquor Mart.

But it's hard to miss the blue-and-gold -- the official colors of Severna Park -- taxicabs that have roamed the area since the business opened June 1.

The company is the brainchild of four men who drove for another taxicab service in Glen Burnie. Steve Fleishell and Thom Wohlfeil, two former retail managers, opened the business with two cabs and their wives as dispatchers.

Brown, a former salesman, and Bill Weigman, a former Baltimore firefighter, joined the venture, and now the company has seven employees driving five cabs to cover as many as 50 calls a day.

"We're doing very well, and this is just the beginning," Fleishell said. He and Wohlfeil decided to start the company after they learned that Severna Park residents had to pay a surcharge of $5 to $10 for a taxicab coming from Annapolis or Glen Burnie, he said.

The surcharge, which is added to the fare, compensates for the extra mileage and gasoline to drive to Severna Park, Fleishell said.

The cab company could become popular with older residents and traveling professionals, said Linda Zahn, executive director of the Greater Severna Park Chamber of Commerce.

"We have a population that is aging and staying in Severna Park," she said of the community's 42,400 residents. "And we have a lot of business people who need to go to BWI and who could use [the service]. I think time will tell."

The company has been successful obtaining business at some area hotels and conference halls. The Courtyard by Marriott and the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies have chosen Severna Park Taxi as their first choice in cabs.

Jan Brennan, the resident manager at the Maritime Institute, said she has been impressed with the company's service.

"They're very reliable, which is very important for our guests," she said. "When we call them, they get a taxi here on time. They're the first one we call."

Pub Date: 8/18/96

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