82.1 F
Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, May 29, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesTAXI GROUPS STILL SAY THEY WON'T PAY PERMIT FEES

TAXI GROUPS STILL SAY THEY WON'T PAY PERMIT FEES

Dec. 27, 2001 – With only a few days to go before the V.I. National Park starts enforcing its requirement that all tour operators hold permits, the two taxi associations that control tour activities at the Cruz Bay dock — the St. John Taxi Association, which has the majority of drivers, and the V.I. Taxi Association — have yet to get on board.
Lorelei Monsanto, the taxi drivers' spokeswoman, said they would not pay any fees.
"We have a surprise in store," she said, declining to give details.
Park Supt. John King said that taxi associations at the island's hotels, tour companies, and many taxi drivers who moonlight with their own tours have obtained their permits.
Once the regulations take effect on Jan. 1, King said, park rangers will start issuing tickets to taxi drivers who are conducting tours but do not have a permit windshield decal. Each ticket carries a $50 fine. King said that after three tickets, the drivers will have to appear in U.S. District Court.
He said the rangers will not issue tickets while there are passengers in the taxi vehicles. "We don't want the visitors to get in the middle of this," he said. Instead, the rangers will hand out the tickets while the passengers are visiting park sites or when the drivers return to Cruz Bay.
"We'll take down license numbers," King said.
He said park authorities have written to all tour providers within the last two weeks citing the park's authority to issue permits and enclosing a permit application.
Other tour operators, such as those that conduct hiking and kayaking excursions and day sails, have held permits for years. The park's new Commercial Services Plan, mandated by Congress, requires all tour operators to have permits. The park initially set the fees at $300 for independent drivers and $750 for associations and companies; after complaints from taxi drivers, King lowered the fees to $75 for independent drivers and $250 for associations and companies. Drivers who only transport people from point A to point B are exempt from the fees.
National Park Service officials held many meetings over the course of a year and a half seeking public input into and feedback on the new Commercial Services Plan. The taxi drivers have complained they were unaware the fees and permits were in the pipeline. As the Jan. 1 deadline for implementing the plan loomed, their objections surfaced.
At a meeting on Oct. 25 called by Sen. Almando "Rocky" Liburd and at a Senate Committee of the Whole meeting on Nov. 5, many drivers were adamant that they would not pay the fees. King has said that tour operators at all of the other 385 national park facilities pay fees.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.




Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.

STAY CONNECTED

20,771FansLike
4,728FollowersFollow

FROM FACEBOOK

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
Load more
Dec. 27, 2001 - With only a few days to go before the V.I. National Park starts enforcing its requirement that all tour operators hold permits, the two taxi associations that control tour activities at the Cruz Bay dock -- the St. John Taxi Association, which has the majority of drivers, and the V.I. Taxi Association -- have yet to get on board.
Lorelei Monsanto, the taxi drivers' spokeswoman, said they would not pay any fees.
"We have a surprise in store," she said, declining to give details.
Park Supt. John King said that taxi associations at the island's hotels, tour companies, and many taxi drivers who moonlight with their own tours have obtained their permits.
Once the regulations take effect on Jan. 1, King said, park rangers will start issuing tickets to taxi drivers who are conducting tours but do not have a permit windshield decal. Each ticket carries a $50 fine. King said that after three tickets, the drivers will have to appear in U.S. District Court.
He said the rangers will not issue tickets while there are passengers in the taxi vehicles. "We don't want the visitors to get in the middle of this," he said. Instead, the rangers will hand out the tickets while the passengers are visiting park sites or when the drivers return to Cruz Bay.
"We'll take down license numbers," King said.
He said park authorities have written to all tour providers within the last two weeks citing the park's authority to issue permits and enclosing a permit application.
Other tour operators, such as those that conduct hiking and kayaking excursions and day sails, have held permits for years. The park's new Commercial Services Plan, mandated by Congress, requires all tour operators to have permits. The park initially set the fees at $300 for independent drivers and $750 for associations and companies; after complaints from taxi drivers, King lowered the fees to $75 for independent drivers and $250 for associations and companies. Drivers who only transport people from point A to point B are exempt from the fees.
National Park Service officials held many meetings over the course of a year and a half seeking public input into and feedback on the new Commercial Services Plan. The taxi drivers have complained they were unaware the fees and permits were in the pipeline. As the Jan. 1 deadline for implementing the plan loomed, their objections surfaced.
At a meeting on Oct. 25 called by Sen. Almando "Rocky" Liburd and at a Senate Committee of the Whole meeting on Nov. 5, many drivers were adamant that they would not pay the fees. King has said that tour operators at all of the other 385 national park facilities pay fees.