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Decatur Taxi Company Owner Plans Suit Over Shutdown

A taxi service owner in Decatur says he plans to sue the city for shutting down his company.

Last week, City Manager Ryan McCrady ruled that AOK Taxi used an unregistered vehicle and failed to inform the city about changes in its fleet. Assistant City Manager Billy Tyus confirms the cab service was shut down last week after violating city codes.

"The decision to revoke the license was based on the operation of unlicensed taxis," he said. "The city is responsible for licensing taxi services. It was decided that taxis were operated without a valid license, among other things."

AOK Taxi owner Anthony Walker said those allegations don't stack up, and he said he is determined to get his company's license back through a federal lawsuit.

"I know for a fact, 150 percent sure, that I can actually go in and prove every allegation was unfounded and there was no merit to it," Walker said. "With that being the case, I need to do that because my creditability and who I am as a business person in this community, I need to do that."

The city had contracted with Walker's company to provide a pick-up service for people who need help getting to a physician or bus stop.

Tyus said the Decatur Public Transit System will now run that program, but he said AOK will still be able to operate its livery service. The city also claims that a number of other vehicles couldn't be on the street because of technical issues.

Losing taxi service in Decatur is nothing new. And a bar owner in the city says it's come to the point where some sort of collaborative effort is needed to give rides to patrons.

Kim Miller co-owns the Bourbon Barrell, which is located near Millikin University. She said patrons have started to complain since learning that AOK taxi has shut down.

"Our cab situation in Decatur has been ongoing for years," Miller said. "We've had companies come in, they do ok for a while, and then they're gone. I don't know if it's just that we don't have enough customers to keep it going. Because obviously, it's just not bar customers. Other customers just need to do their day-to-day activities."

Miller said there needs to be some serious discussions with other owners and the city about offering some sort of shuttle service.

She says AOK network is offering a $10 shuttle service to or from anywhere in the area. But the company only offers a few vehicles, and Miller said its status is uncertain given the problems with the taxi company.

Bourbon Barrell used to provide free rides to some patrons who were in no condition to drive, but Miller said that's no longer feasible.