A planned lottery in Prince George's County to hand out licenses to390 new taxicab drivers has been canceled because fewer cabbies than expected applied for them. "We wound up with fewer applicants than numbers available under the lottery," said Samuel Wynkoop, the acting director of the county's Department of Environmental Resources.

Officials anticipated a high amount of interest among those wanting to take advantage of recent legislation expanding the number of drivers in the county, but only 254 applicants for the Taxicab Certificate Lottery met the requirements, he said.

Applicants deemed eligible now have to pass county requirements before they receive a license. That includes showing proof of insurance and having a car with a meter installed in accordance with Maryland vehicle inspections.

The Prince George's County Council voted to allow more drivers in July, despite the ardent protest of some of the county's existing taxicab companies. The number of taxis will nearly double over the next four years, as the new legislation also calls for the county granting 75 new certificates to drivers every year for the next four years.

Wynkoop, who was not in office during the taxi debate, acknowledged that the County Council "must have anticipated a lot more" applicants when the legislation was drafted.

Of the five county council members who sponsored the legislation last year, District 3 Councilman Eric Olson is the only one still on the council. He could not be reached for comment Monday.

Money could have deterred some from applying. "It's not an inexpensive process," Wynkoop said, noting the costs associated with insurance and car inspections.

More than 150 applications were rejected in the lottery application process, he said. Leftover certificates not given out this year will be distributed during the next application period.

Advocates of

more cab drivers have argued that a few companies monopolize the market. Opponents say the expansion will flood the market and hurt business.

"Not only the number they authorized for this go-around

is way too high, the ultimate number they authorized is insane," said John Lally, an attorney for Silver Cab and the unofficial spokesman for opponents of the increase.

He said the legislation expanding taxi service is "sloppy," and that the industry will be hurt when the market is flooded with new drivers. Lally hopes to see the council address the issue "again legislatively" this year.