Safari-Style Taxis a Thing of the Past?

safari truckOk folks, so there’s some more drama brewing with the island’s taxi situation and we have to admit, it doesn’t make us happy.

For those of you who have ridden around in an island safari taxi, you know how much fun it is to cruise down North Shore Road with the wind in your hair as you take in the island’s beautiful sites. Well it seems those days may be numbered due to a certain law that was created back in 2009.

This is a tad confusing, so please bear with us…

So back in 2009, the Virgin Islands Taxi Commission put into practice a new rule that sought to replace the islands’ open air safari taxis with enclosed vans.  This 2009 mandate created a “moratorium on licensing new safari taxis built by island fabricators and installed on ‘incomplete’ truck frames imported from the U.S. unless the so-called ‘after-market’ fabrication is certified as meeting federal standards for operation, according to the St. John Tradewinds News.

Well it seems that there aren’t any after-market fabricators in the territory who can certify a finished safari. So what does that mean? It essentially means that as it stands now, no new safari-style taxis will be made. And once the current safari-style taxis run their course, they will be replaced with enclosed vans.

Not cool.

Seriously, could you imagine riding around the island in an enclosed van? Neither can I.

So what can you do about it? Well our friends over at Active St. John created a petition and they’d like you all to sign it. Here’s a sample of what they had to say about it:

Does anyone think its good for tourism and residents of the Virgin Islands to replace the Safari Taxis with passenger vans? Does anyone want to have to get in/out of a single van door in traffic as we drive on the left and the vans passenger doors are on the right? 

How is this remotely safer? How could it be possible there are federal standards for operation for these Safaris? Can anyone imagine riding down a freeway in the states with a fully loaded Safari at 60mph and not getting arrested? The Safaris are part of the VI and must stay in the VI. Can anyone remember a Safari having a safety issue due to not having a federally-certified welder constructing these amazing vehicles? The sooner this gets repealed, the better … only you can make the difference to the VI’s future!

Interested in signing the petition? Click here to read it in its entirety and to sign it.

14 thoughts on “Safari-Style Taxis a Thing of the Past?”

  1. The V. I. Taxi Association is conducting this properly. The vehicle manufacturer’s were unaware of the unauthorized alterations to the vehicle. These vehicles are sold without a body installed. Once in the VI, they are altered to add on the seating carriage which is a Liability that the vehicle mnufacturer’s are unwilling to bear, for obvious reasons. The vehicle manufacturer’s have put the V. I. Taxi Association on notice and they must not be able to modify these base frames any longer, thus the vans.

    • Hence why the VI Legislature needs to amend laws to allow for modifications of vehicle to allow open air taxis…..thus….local law supercedes and creates no liability for the manufacturer, only liuability to the individual who modifies the vehicle.

      Banning open air taxis, is frankly, moronic.

    • Ford Motor Company states they are not liable for their vehicles once modified and the Intermediate and final stage manufacturers must exercise proper engineering judgment to determine if a modification is appropriate for their specific application. Why can’t the Virgin Islands come up with a set regulations and guidelines for the final stage manufactures to follow? The below information is taken from FORDs SUPER DUTY F SERIES Incomplete Vehicle Manual and is linked at the bottom.

      Ford Motor Company has endeavored, whenever possible, to state the specific conditions under which an incomplete vehicle may be completed to conform to each applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard. These specific statements are intended to aid subsequent stage manufacturers in avoiding instances of inadvertent noncompliance to particular standards. Note that the final responsibility for the compliance of the completed vehicle rests with the final stage manufacturer who is required by law to certify, as prescribed by Section 567.5 of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, that the completed vehicle conforms to all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and that all applicable federal, state and California emission/noise standards are conformed with. Ford Motor Company does not make any representation as to the appropriateness of modifications for any particular application other than expressly stated herein. Intermediate and final stage manufacturers must exercise proper engineering judgment to determine if a modification is appropriate for their specific application.


  2. “From the Wisconsin Dept. Of Transportation”…If the taxis are going to go to 9 12 and 15 passenger vans!

    “Exercise caution with 9, 12 and 15-passenger vans

    15-passenger van occupants wearing their seat belts Always buckle up, every person, every time!

    checking tire pressure on a 15-passenger van Make sure your tires are always properly inflated!

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends a number of steps that help to keep occupants safe in 9, 12 and 15-passenger vans. These large vans with up to five rows of seats have special handling issues and, particularly when fully loaded with passengers, can be less stable than most other types of passenger vehicles. Owners and drivers of these vans can follow some simple safety tips to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities.”

    • This is not Wisconsin… (or like anywhere else for that matter – mostly…) – if the Safari taxis follow the posted speed limit on StJ (another more important issue IMO when it comes to accident risk) – the risk becomes minimal – since that speed is SLOW.

      Regardless – Laws should make sense – or be amended – to the Will of The People

  3. This is absolutely ridiculous. Are they having fatal accidents every other week? Have they ever had one? The “liablity” is the same if you flip over a 12-person van, and the roads and traffic patterns aren’t meant for them. Tourists will also avoid them whenever possible. Travelers (or residents) on the islands are not the tourists that go to Branson, MO or Vegas, sealed up in a sausage-packed bus. How about the Taxi Commission finding another “vehicle’s manufacturer” who would (or who do) make the safari-style cabs? Since they’re blaming this on the manufacturer? Why don’t we ask those private companies now building rockets and scheduling tourist space flights? Seems they might accept the “liability”. 😉

    • There was an incident a few years back when either one or two young women fell out of a cab and were killed, but thats the only one I can think of.

      I would rather take a safari cab than ride the vitran bus.

  4. Safari buses are designed so passengers get on and off on the curb side. Most taxi vans in current use have passengers dumped in traffic flow, a far more dangerous situation. If the intent is purely safety, then mandate taxi vans have doors on the left. Yes, the manufacturers can do that, it is just less expensive for the dealer to order base models.

  5. They need to amend the law to allow for safari taxis to be made. They are very safe at the speeds of stj and it is a ridiculous law. It would be a shame to lose a real piece of the islands because they didn’t realize the reality of the law.

  6. I don’t think this is the correct question to ask:

    “Why can’t the Virgin Islands come up with a set regulations and guidelines for the final stage manufactures to follow?”

    We know that in the sea oriented territory, they cannot, after six months figure out how to get two ships out of the dock and in service. Where would they find an automotive engineer to write such regulations?

    The question we should be asking is why don’t they get them modified in the US where there are people qualified to do this? Could it be that these open taxis can’t be built under the existing regulations? It wouldn’t be the first time that the US wrote a regulation to outlaw a particular vehicle. Think about the wood frame Morgan.

  7. Who hasnt gotten on a closed van taxi on STT, windows shut, jammed in with people, no views. Its miserable. Forget getting out, forget seeing anything, forget the whole on island experience. The Safari taxi is part of the island culture. Whats next? The Do- Gooders behind this will only be happy when every bit of individuality and joy is sucked out of the world.

  8. Update as per the coconut telgraph: It is all about the mighty dollar. The taxi driver cannot afford the cost of liability and the VI Government nor the VI Taxi Association will subsidize the drivers to cover the cost. BUT, it also involves Federal Monies issued to the VI from the U. S. Department of Transportation (DOT). This money source will stop because the Federal gov’t does not recognize the safari’s because they do not meet mandated federal safety requirements. The VI government, as you all know, cannot afford losing any federal monies. The best that can be done, it appears, is have these type of vehicles certified and built in the U. S. in accordance with DOT regulations, then ship them down to the VI.

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