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OMALiNK

Omalink Driver Sam Calhoun talks with his office manager while waiting to pick up a passenger at the Embassy Suites on Thursday, April 27, 2006. (LJS file)

Another transportation company will toss its hat into the Lincoln cab service ring.

OMALiNK, a company that primarily shuttles people to the Omaha airport, will apply to have taxi service in Lincoln after Omaha-based Happy Cab and its four sister companies applied earlier this month.

OMALiNK also does charter service for groups; town car or limo service; and courier service.

CEO Chris Stokes said he had three options when looking at the Lincoln situation.

"We can stay on the sidelines and see what happens, we can fight like hell and protest their (Happy Cab's) application or jump on the bandwagon and try to serve Lincoln, too," Stokes said. "We're in a good position to apply. We already have the infrastructure in Lincoln set up."

The application to the Public Service Commission comes in response to public outcry over the lack of cabs and complaints about excessive wait times and the high cost of Lincoln's current company, Servant Cab.

Mayor Chris Beutler and some City Council members have expressed the need for more cabs in town.

OMALiNK applied for permission to operate a cab service in Lincoln in 2006, but Servant Cab protested, saying there wasn't enough room for the two companies.

Instead, they were granted "open service" authority, which placed several restrictions on OMALiNK, including point-to-point service within the city of Lincoln with sedans, no transportation to the Lincoln Airport and only allowing van transport, according to a 2006 Journal Star story.

Stokes said he wants to apply again in part because he loves Lincoln and hates to "see it suffer because of such a limited cab service."

He also said the shifting scene could affect his bottom line.

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The Public Service Commission, which regulates cabs companies, says the companies must show a public need in the service area before getting permission to operate.

Stokes said he's not worried about too many companies coming into the market.

"We either have a monopoly and it runs well and everyone is happy and quiet, or we have lots of competition that's good out there," Stokes said. "It's a free market, and I think having too many companies is an invalid argument."

The company, which has 21 vans, luxury sedans and limos, hit 50,000 reservations in December since opening in 2002, according to a recent business achievement story.

Stokes said he would be able to buy cars and put them into use quickly, if granted authority.

The company has offices in Lincoln and Omaha with more than 40 employees.

OMALiNK charges a fixed rate for a trip (say from the Lincoln office to the Omaha airport) or it can charge by how many "zones" or areas of the city they go through.

Taxis charge by the mile.

"Our customers have called us and told us we should apply," Stokes said. "They've given us great support and tell us we do it right.

"We want to break the mold of what transportation historically has been in Lincoln."

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​Reach Jordan Pascale at 402-473-7120, jpascale@journalstar.com or follow him @LJSPascale.

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