Ok, there’s a lot going on with the island’s taxi situation. It’s pretty complicated, but we’ll do our our best to break it down for all of you. We’ll also explain how it will likely affect all of us.
So you know the dozens of taxis that are typically lined up next to the ferry dock? The majority of them, if not all, belong to the St. John Taxi Association. The association formed more than 10 years ago and has been leasing the property from the government since 2002. The taxi association initially signed a one-year lease, but when that expired back in 2003, it continued its lease on a month-to-month basis.
As part of the lease, the taxi association was required to make a monthly payment. According to the Virgin Islands Daily News, it missed several of those $400 a month payments. So what did the government do? They demanded that the taxi association leave the property. What did the association do? They ignored the demand.
Fast forward to the last few months:
Because the taxi association continuously ignored the government’s demand to vacate the property, the government initiated legal proceedings to evict the association from the Cruz Bay taxi stand. The issue was subsequently heard in Virgin Islands Superior Court, which ordered the eviction of the association from the taxi stand by last Saturday, November 30. Now that the eviction date has come and gone, the government has turned the area in question over to the Port Authority.
Here’s what Governor John deJongh, Jr. recently said about the situation:
“We have been given an opportunity that I believe in the long term is in the best interest of how this area can be managed for the community as a whole and for our visitors. To achieve this objective, I have discussed with the Virgin Islands Port Authority transferring ownership of the taxi stand from the central government to them. There is a natural synergy with the ferry traffic arriving at the Loredon L. Boynes, Sr. dock in Cruz Bay. The Authority has the staff on St. John as well as the operational experience of managing taxis, limousines and other vehicle for hire services.”
“While the court has ruled that the St. John Taxi Association must vacate the taxi stand, my Administration’s greatest concern is that the VIPA has the full ability to ensure taxi operations at the dock will be orderly and we will not witness the chaotic atmosphere of the past.”
“The taxi stand in downtown Cruz Bay is located at the gateway to the island for thousands of residents and visitors who arrive and depart from St. John each day. We can ill afford a taxi operation at such a critical location that is not being operated effectively,” the governor said.
Now all of that being said, there are several changes happening. According to the St. John Source:
- Only 40 taxi drivers a day will be able to operate at the Cruz Bay ferry dock
- The taxi stand will open at 6 a.m. and will close at 11 p.m.
- Only some of the taxis will be stationed at the dock. The rest will wait in the Enighed Pond parking lot until they are called for service.
- Those taxi drivers who are not assigned to the ferry dock on a given day will still be allowed to work at other locations across the island.
- Taxi drivers they must come properly dressed. They will not be allowed to wear short pants or slippers to work.
- Double parking along the waterfront will no longer be allowed; however the drivers will still have the use of the 13 parking spots along the waterfront, which are currently designated to taxis.
- Taxi drivers and all others who use the dock will be charged $10 per day for unlimited trips, which will be paid to the dock master stationed at the dock. This includes villa management companies – each person picking up guests will have to pay $10 for unlimited pickups.
- People picking up villa guests will no longer be allowed to stand at the head of the dock with signs bearing the guest’s name.
We’re sure that this story will continue to evolve. Stay tuned.