ST. THOMAS TAXICAB MEN AND WOMEN SHARE GRIEVANCES
ST. THOMAS- The Committee on Government Operations, Veterans Affairs, and Consumer Protection, chaired by Senator Carla J. Joseph, hosted the second in a series of town hall meetings regarding the Taxicab Industry. The first town hall meeting was held in St. John on June 23, 2023. At the Friday, September 29th, town hall meeting at the Capitol Building in St. Thomas, taxicab men and women shared their grievances with lawmakers on some of the challenges plaguing the Taxicab Commission and industry.
Senator Joseph read a letter from the Taxicab Commission Executive Director, Vernice Gumbs, indicating that she would not be attending the meeting due to health issues. In addition, the Taxicab Commission failed to send an authorized representative to the town hall meeting. Consequently, some Taxicab men and women voiced their dissatisfaction with the absence of the Taxicab Commission Executive Director and Board Members. Senator Joseph stated that legislators are present to hear the concerns of the taxi drivers. Therefore, grievances will be documented in writing and shared with the Taxicab Executive Director and Commission Board. “The pen is mightier than the sword,” said Senator Joseph.
Collectively, the taxicab men and women implored the governor to remove ineffective board members and reappoint those who had their best interests at heart. Moreover, concerned residents suggested holding an internal election to allow commission members to provide input by electing board members. Additional obstacles include high late fees for taxi medallion renewals, the rise of limousine services, which is causing a decline in taxi services, and the taxi industry’s outmoded and antiquated policies and procedures. Members stated the lack of enforcement has led to an upsurge in the number of illegal taxis operating in St. Thomas, which include gypsy taxis and taxi drivers with expired licenses. In addition, a concerned member suggested instituting an age limit for taxi drivers to give the younger generation an opportunity to be removed from the waiting list and become authorized taxi drivers.
Present at the town hall meeting were Senators Carla J. Joseph, Ray Fonseca, Donna A. Frett Gregory, Marvin A. Blyden, Angel L. Bolques, Jr., and Milton E. Potter.
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