Friday, October 19, 2012

Alternatives to airport's taxi policy under consideration - Portland Daily Sun

Alternatives to airport's taxi policy under consideration


http://portlanddailysun.me/index.php/newsx/local-news/7931-alternatives-to-airport-s-taxi-policy-under-consideration

The Portland Jetport introduced a proposal to members of the City Council Wednesday to reduce the number of non-reserved taxis at the facility, but three alternatives were floated in light of dissatisfaction with the airport's plan.10-18-taxi-2
The council's Transportation, Sustainability and Energy Committee met with representatives from the jetport to continue discussions of how to overhaul the facility's non-reserved taxi policy. Jetport Manager Paul Bradbury presented a lottery system to reduce the number of non-reserved taxis, but three other solutions were also floated during the meeting.
Councilor David Marshall, who chairs the committee, said the group would make a recommendation on a non-reserved taxi policy at its next meeting and will consider all the testimony that was presented.
"I think it's good to have options," he said, and all of the alternatives presented during the meeting would be up for consideration.
The jetport's administration is proposing a lottery system that would start on July 1, 2013. The lottery would not only create more fairness to access a non-reserved taxi permit for the jetport but also accomplish the goal of reducing the number of permits to 40, according to a memo.
The first lottery would be held in July 2013 and be limited to current permit holders. The lottery would dole out 10 one-year permits, 10 permits for a two-year renewal, 10 for a three-year renewal and 10 permits for a four-year renewal. The first year would reduce the number of available permits from 49 to 40.
The second phase of the lottery system would be held for 10 of the permits and be open to all licensed taxis interested. All the permits issued would be for a one-year term with the option to renew for up to three more years.
Bradbury said the lottery system accomplishes the goal of reducing the number of permits and gives cab drivers a chance to prepare for the transition.
"We thought this was a good balance," he said.
The system designed by the airport administration guarantees that the existing permit holders will retain their access until at least July 2013, according to Bradbury, and allows the drivers to have a transition period and recoup investments made in their cab companies.
"We can do better than the airport's proposal," said Attorney Sigmund Schutz, who represented the non-reserved taxi drivers. He said the drivers understand the goals of the airport management but said an effort should be made to preserve the jobs and livelihood of the existing cab operators.
Schutz said one alternative solution could be creating a shift system for the non-reserved permits. He said a shift system would reduce the number of cabs operating at any one time and create opportunities for new taxi companies to access fares at the airport.
A second alternative could be an attrition system with consequences, said Schutz.
Within the next year, four drivers plan to relinquish their permits, said Schutz, and that would get the airport four more slots toward its cap of 40 and there would likely be more permits surrendered later.
Schutz said if that attrition doesn't accomplish the goal of the airport to reduce the number of non-reserved taxi permits in a few years, the drivers would be comfortable with instituting a lottery system.
Marshall asked how the alternatives would open up the airport to new taxi operators.
Schutz said the shift system would require an increased pool of drivers to accommodate the demand, and the attrition with consequences system depends on where the airport administration wants to set the cap for the number of permits.
Bradbury said he didn't think that a shift system would be feasible since it essentially cuts a taxi operator's work load in half and also doubles the number of cabs working at the airport. He said it would be tough to make a shift system equitable given the variation in airline schedules.
"That is really, really difficult," he said.
As to the alternative attrition program, Bradbury said he's skeptical that after several years with a level number of permits, four operators are decided to relinquish their licenses.
Councilor Kevin Donoghue floated a third idea that would rely primarily on attrition but take away the provisions that allow the permits to go unexpired and be transferred.
Donoghue said it might be worth considering setting a time limit on the permits that diminishes the number of transfers, accomplishes attrition and doesn't force anyone out of the market.

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