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A North Adams taxi company is facing a possible license suspension

North Adams City Hall (copy) (copy)

Police Chief Jason Wood told City Councilors on Tuesday night about a taxi company's alleged license violations. The council will hold another meeting to decide how to proceed.

NORTH ADAMS — A taxi business in the city is facing possible license suspension after police reported violations.

Officers have reported that drivers not licensed to drive a taxi in the city, including a 16-year-old ineligible for a taxi license, have been seen driving for OTT Taxi, Chief Jason Wood told the City Council on Tuesday night.’

But business owner John Lord said that if those not licensed to drive taxis are seen operating the company cars, it’s for personal use, not a fare.

Lord met with Wood and Mayor Jennifer Macksey in late September about concerns that the businesses’ taxis were operating with the wrong type of plates and that Lord, who is not licensed to drive a taxi in the city, had been seen driving the cabs, according to a mid-October letter the chief sent to Lord. If problems are not fixed, he wrote, he would recommend the council consider reviewing the business’ license. The license plate issue was fixed, Wood told the Council, but the driver problem, was not.

After the FreshGrass music festival, Wood said he stopped Lord driving the taxi. “Since that time he has been seen operating the vehicle. That’s been a continued issue.”

Lord said he knows he can’t be a taxi driver. Though he has a driver’s license, he has to have had it for a year before he can qualify to drive a taxi, he told councilors in a letter. He operates the business’ vehicles “but only for personal use,” his letter says. “Perhaps a disconnect is seeing my driving a taxi with a passenger and assuming the person is paying a cab.”

Police have seen a 16-year-old driving the taxi several times, Wood told the council. Per city ordinance, drivers must be 18 to get a license to operate a taxi. The 16-year-old driver in December was cited for having a suspended driver’s license. He said the teenager, who works as a dispatcher for the taxi company, has driven the cars but not for customers.

In response to a councilor’s quesiton, Wood said no traffic citations had been issued because the violations are against city ordinance not state law or traffic code.

Wood said anyone operating the business vehicle needs a license to operate a taxi in the city, per city ordinance — regardless of whether it was for business or personal use. Lord said he thought he was still able to drive his business’ car.

City police have looked into the issue after residents raised it, Wood said. “We’re not watching OTT Taxi like a hawk,” he said, “but we routinely get complaints from citizens.” He told councilors he would ask them for a license suspension, not revocation.

The council will meet again to decide what to do next. Council President Lisa Blackmer asked that the group meet at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 31 to talk about Wood’s recommendations on the case.

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6272.


Greta Jochem, a Report for America Corps member, joined the Eagle in 2021. Previously, she was a reporter at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. She is also a member of the investigations team.

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