Airport taxi drivers fight to protect turf

If you’re tired of the scrum for a taxi at the St. Thomas airport, help may be on the way.

Legislation signed by the Governor provides that the Port Authority set aside lanes for use by hotels’ and resorts’ for their guests.  The provision was inserted after hotel and tourism groups complained about the current taxi service.  Visitors complain, their ride from the airport may involves several stops before they get to their hotel or the Red Hook ferry; more ‘local’ than ‘express.’ (Honk if this has never happened to you!)

The legislation also awarded exclusive franchises to associations of taxi drivers, over objections from the Chamber of Commerce, tourism groups, and independent taxi drivers. (After all, who doesn't like competition … except the Taxi associations?)

There may yet be more controversey at the airport affecting tourists. 

The bill exempts “limousines” from the oversight of the VI Taxicab Commission.  To some taxi drivers, this means limo drivers could pick up passengers even where associations have been given the franchise. 

A limousine is defined as ‘any large, luxurious sedan. driven by a chauffeur and for which the principal terms of service are contractually arranged and settled in advance.  The vice president of the East End Taxi Association is worried.  Al Martin told the Virgin Islands Daily News limos should not be exempt from the rules, “or else we’ll end up with a free-for-all, and that’s not good.”  The folks in the middle of the tug of war, of course, will be tourists.

Lots of food for thought here, though, isn't there?  For instance, could villa rental companies hire a driver and 'limo' to pick up guests, avoiding the stress and hassle of the airport taxi scrum?  Just sayin'.

8 thoughts on “Airport taxi drivers fight to protect turf”

  1. The worst is when you arrive at the airport with an 8 lb dog in a small carrier and they make you take a private taxi for $90 to Red Hook. Welcome to the VI “tourist”

  2. The taxi situation is a most unpleasant way to start your vacation, that is for sure. This year we are renting a car at the airport on STT and avoiding the taxis. We did the math, its cheaper to rent the car on STT and pay the car ferry charge to STJ.

  3. For me, the only thing bad about STJ is having to go thru STT to get there…..the herding of the tourist through the taxi system is comical at best. If you have any good humor left after your flight….taxi ride….and ferry ride then negotiating your rental car and finally arriving at your lodging….you are more patient than most…or you have been doing it so long that you steel yourself for the assault as you deplane.
    Best bet is to rent a car in STT….Pick up some bulk items for the villa at the grocery store…catch the ferry in Redhook …and arrive in STJ in a good mood. Can one still rent cars on STT to come to STJ?

  4. Yes, You can still rent on STT to go to SJU. And that is what we have started doing…for the very same reason you and others have stated. The ” taxi circus” drives us crazy and is so expensive. The taxi drivers attitude and cost and made to feel like “cattle” being herded and long ride trying to get to the Red Hook ferry leaves you exhausted when you finally get over to the Rock. Wish things could change so we could start renting our vehicle on STJ again.

  5. Honestly we are just SO happy to finally be there…the cab ride to Red Hook is just part of the experience. The ONLY worry I have while I’m there is which swimsuit I’ll be wearing…as soon as my foot steps off the plane I’m in total Island Time.

  6. One of my fondest memories is of arriving at STT and watching the locals as they saw me unpack my bike from a box, get on it and ride away. Also, I loved the ferry boat ride to STJ. You couldn’t pay me to use a taxi if I can avoid it. Lobby for a public shuttle bus to Red Hook. In Miami we have an express bus from the Airport to South Beach, $2.50 Also there’s a new light rail service connection to MIA.

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