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What kind of license does Cartmen have to operate a golf cart downtown?

Ken Little

Bryan Metzger, owner of Cartmen, shuttles a Wilmington resident from her home on South Seventh Street to the corner of Dock and Front streets in September 2010. (StarNews file photo)

Cartmen Inc. has a privilege license to operate as a business within the city limits, city of Wilmington spokesman Dylan Lee said.

“However, because they are not for hire (do not charge for rides) they are not regulated by the taxi rules and regulations,” Lee said.

“The city does not require people who drive golf carts on city streets to carry liability insurance, although it is my understanding that they do carry liability,” Lee said.

Each of the four modified golf carts used in Wilmington carries $1.5 million in liability coverage, business owner Bryan Metzger said.

In consultation with the Wilmington Police Department, Cartmen drivers limit their geographical scope to the areas bounded by Greenfield Street on the south, Bess Street on the north, the Cape Fear River and Eighth Street on the east. They do not make runs after midnight, Lee said.

Cartmen has been operating in Wilmington for about two and a half years, Metzger said.

The carts are classified by the N.C. Department of Transportation as neighborhood electric vehicles, which can use any road with a speed limit of 35 mph or less.

The drivers, who rent the carts from Cartmen, can’t charge any money and rely on tips from the riding public, Metzger said.

The golf carts provide a valuable safety component in the city, he said. Pedestrians tend to follow the same routes as the frequently operating carts.

“We’ve almost created a pedestrian walk pattern. (Our job) is getting people home safe and making people comfortable,” Metzger said.

Company drivers report suspicious activities to police, he said. In 2011, Cartmen drivers made 22 calls to 911 to report robberies, fights and other activities, Metzger said.

Plans are in the works to make food deliveries in the electric vehicles, Metzger said.

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