"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com – brought to you by Absolut, Avion, Fireball, Pama, Red Stag and 2 Gingers – is back for another round! The whole month of February, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun articles on bars and clubs – including guides, the latest trends, bar reviews, the results of our Best of Bars poll and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!
Too often, people wander down Water and Brady Streets, or across North Avenue, waving their hands at passing, occupied cabs. We’ve seen people huddled on a corner, sort of flailing at the dim outlines of cars with headlights that match, what they think, belongs to a cab.
Those who wish not to drive home after a night out on the town have known for a long time that doing so might require a long wait for transportation, as Milwaukee long had a cap on the number of taxis allowed on the city streets.
That cap was ruled unconstitutional last year, and in November the Common Council voted to increase the number of licenses.
Last Monday – the first day anyone could apply - Ald. Robert Bauman’s office released a statement that said the License Division of the City Clerk’s office had received 79 "intent to apply" forms for new taxicab permits.
Only 100 new permits will be issued, and if the number of "intent to apply" applications exceeds that number, a lottery will be held to award the permits. To apply, an applicant must submit $100 by check or money order along with their intent to apply and return it to the Licenses Division by Feb. 28.
"The response that we have seen from local residents regarding the increase in taxicab permits has been excellent," Bauman said in the statement. "In essence, the legislation gives a much needed boost to those who are looking to start their own small business, and today we’re seeing a great start to this process."
While an additional 100 cabs seems like a small number, any additional form of safe transportation in the Cream City is a good thing – which brings us to Uber.
For those who travel out of the Cream City, the transportation company that uses an app to connect passengers with a private car (often in advance) has become very, very desirable.
OnMilwaukee.com wrote about the company wanting to expand into Milwaukee this year, and it seems as if things are starting to ramp up. (A message to Uber requesting an update on its Milwaukee division was not immediately returned).
Milwaukee has some of the best bars in the country, but too often patrons have to change their plans (or make unsafe choices) due in large part because of the lack of safe transportation to and from these great places.
Change happens slowly, but at least it’s happening – and believe that the new taxis, as will the Uber service, will be a welcome addition to the Milwaukee bar scene.
Other ways to get home safely
The Tavern League of Wisconsin has run a Safe Ride program in many counties around the state, including Milwaukee County. If the bar you're at participates in the program, you can get a ride home in a cab at no charge.
Or, if you patronize RedBar, and you need a cab ride home, the bar will provide a cab voucher to not only get home, but to come back the next day to get your car.
Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.
A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.
To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.
Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining OnMilwaukee.com.
In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.
Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.