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VIPA Director Seeking Solution to Conflict With Taxi Association

June 21, 2006 – Darlan Brin, executive director of the V.I. Port Authority, said he is working to address ongoing problems between the V.I. Taxi Association, VIPA and vendors offering transportation services from Cyril E. King Airport.
After a VIPA board meeting Wednesday, Brin explained that the authority has an agreement with the taxi association for franchise rights at the airport, with the exception of prepaid or packaged tours (See "Taxi Association Wins Judgment Against VIPA, Two Resorts).
"So basically, if you don't have prepaid transportation, you have to take a taxi association vehicle," Brin said. "But the problem with that is, how do you verify the prepayment?" he added.
Brin said that VIPA is currently developing a new form that visitors can use as proof that they have prepaid for a package tour. He added that the authority also plans on complying with a recent ruling made by Superior Court Judge Leon Kendall finding that VIPA, the Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas and Caneel Bay Resort are violating the franchise operation of the taxi association.
"We also plan on paying the fine that was imposed," he added.
Brin said that, despite the ruling, the problem of visitors taking alternate taxi service is not easily solved. He said the taxi association runs a "shuttle service," in which passengers make a number of stops instead of being driven "straight to their hotel."
He added that passengers have opted to take alternate taxi services employed by the hotels because "they don't have to make a whole bunch of stops" before arriving at their destination.
While many taxi drivers were heard Wednesday on local radio stations discussing their concerns about Kendall's decision, the Source received an e-mail from an individual who said she has been negatively impacted by the ruling.
"I've contracted a taxi service to pick me and my wedding guests up at the airport in July," she wrote. "I've now been told by the service that they cannot pick me or my guests up. Communicating long-distance is tough enough, but now I'm back to square one when it comes to coordinating local transportation for the dozens of guests…what am I left to do?"
When asked about the issue, Brin said that VIPA is still reviewing the impact the ruling will have.
VIPA Board Chairman Robert O'Connor added that the board would also discuss the "legal ramifications" of the ruling at the next meeting.
Calls made Wednesday to Winston Parker, president of the taxi association, were not returned.
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