Currently, there are one-hundred-fifty-five taxis licensed to pick up flagging customers in the city. Other drivers can work at the airport and the beaches, but they can't pick up downtown, even if danger is imminent.
[...]"We like to come out and have fun, but at the end of the night we gotta go home, right? We wanna go home, and it doesn't happen forever. It takes about an hour, hour and a half."
That's James, who didn't want to give his last name. He and his friends come to Wilmington every few weeks. Like usual, they can't get a taxi, even though they planned ahead and made a reservation for pickup.
"We get frustrated. There'll be a race. Eventually a taxi will pull up right there, and we're here, some guys are there, some guys are over there, and everybody races to the same taxi. And that leads to drama every time."
Along with the drama, Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous says that some bar-goers wait three hours for a taxi, or worse, they amble down side-streets. In 2010, there were five murders, nearly fifty reported sexual assaults, and hundreds of robberies By three o'clock, James and his friends have waited an hour. Just as it seems their options have run out, the trio finally flags a cab and heads home.
On the other side of town, Cab driver Nial Johnson is eating French fries with ketchup at a twenty four-hour diner. As a non-W driver, he only goes downtown when he's been called by a client.