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HomeNewsArchivesSOME TAXI DRIVERS ARE APPLYING FOR PERMITS

SOME TAXI DRIVERS ARE APPLYING FOR PERMITS

Jan. 2, 2002 – There has been a flurry of taxi drivers applying for tour operator permits, V.I. National Park Supt. John King said Wednesday. "A number of people came in Dec. 31," he said.
He did not have figures but said every time he stopped by the park's concession office, taxi drivers were there applying for permits.
Jan. 1 was the deadline for all tour companies and independent taxi drivers who take people on tours through the park to secure a permit.
While the island's largest taxi organization, the St. John Taxi Association, has not applied for a permit, King said several members of the group have requested individual permits. The park offered organizations such as the association a blanket permit to cover all its members.
Lorelei Monsanto, who speaks for the St. John Taxi Association, said the organization did not intend to get a permit. "They're public roads and we're not going to pay," she said.
Monsanto said taxi drivers taking people on tours do not use the park's facilities. However, King has many times disputed that allegation, noting that the tours stop at beaches and other park facilities.
The park contends that it owns the roads through the park. King and Sen. Almando "Rocky" Liburd agreed at an Oct. 25 public meeting that road ownership would be decided in court.
King said that most tour companies, the St. Thomas-based V.I. Taxi Association and smaller associations located at hotels have applied for or have already received their permits.
He said that he told the park's enforcement rangers to "go easy" on drivers on Tuesday, the day the permit requirement took effect, because of the number of last- minute applicants.
On Tuesday, King said, park rangers issued warnings to drivers whose vehicles did not display a permit decal in the window. He said the next time a ranger stops them for the same violation, they will receive a ticket. Three tickets will require an appearance before a U.S. District Court judge.
King has said the rangers will not issue tickets while the taxi drivers have passengers in their vehicles. Instead, the rangers will note the vehicle tag numbers and issue the tickets when the passengers are not in the vehicles or when the drivers return to Cruz Bay.
Other tour operators, such as those who conduct hiking, kayaking and day-sail excursions, have held permits for years. The park's new Commercial Services Plan, mandated by Congress, requires that all tour operators obtain annual permits.
The park initially set the fees at $300 for independent drivers and $750 for associations and companies. After drivers objected, King lowered them to $75 for independent drivers and $250 for associations and companies. No permits are required of taxi drivers who only transport passengers from point A to point B.
Park personnel held many public meetings over the course of a year and a half seeking community input in shaping its new Commercial Services Plan. Several months ago, as the Jan. 1 deadline loomed, many taxi drivers said they had been unaware that the fees and permits were in the pipeline.
King has said that tour operators at all 385 National Park Service facilities pay fees.

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Jan. 2, 2002 - There has been a flurry of taxi drivers applying for tour operator permits, V.I. National Park Supt. John King said Wednesday. "A number of people came in Dec. 31," he said.
He did not have figures but said every time he stopped by the park's concession office, taxi drivers were there applying for permits.
Jan. 1 was the deadline for all tour companies and independent taxi drivers who take people on tours through the park to secure a permit.
While the island's largest taxi organization, the St. John Taxi Association, has not applied for a permit, King said several members of the group have requested individual permits. The park offered organizations such as the association a blanket permit to cover all its members.
Lorelei Monsanto, who speaks for the St. John Taxi Association, said the organization did not intend to get a permit. "They're public roads and we're not going to pay," she said.
Monsanto said taxi drivers taking people on tours do not use the park's facilities. However, King has many times disputed that allegation, noting that the tours stop at beaches and other park facilities.
The park contends that it owns the roads through the park. King and Sen. Almando "Rocky" Liburd agreed at an Oct. 25 public meeting that road ownership would be decided in court.
King said that most tour companies, the St. Thomas-based V.I. Taxi Association and smaller associations located at hotels have applied for or have already received their permits.
He said that he told the park's enforcement rangers to "go easy" on drivers on Tuesday, the day the permit requirement took effect, because of the number of last- minute applicants.
On Tuesday, King said, park rangers issued warnings to drivers whose vehicles did not display a permit decal in the window. He said the next time a ranger stops them for the same violation, they will receive a ticket. Three tickets will require an appearance before a U.S. District Court judge.
King has said the rangers will not issue tickets while the taxi drivers have passengers in their vehicles. Instead, the rangers will note the vehicle tag numbers and issue the tickets when the passengers are not in the vehicles or when the drivers return to Cruz Bay.
Other tour operators, such as those who conduct hiking, kayaking and day-sail excursions, have held permits for years. The park's new Commercial Services Plan, mandated by Congress, requires that all tour operators obtain annual permits.
The park initially set the fees at $300 for independent drivers and $750 for associations and companies. After drivers objected, King lowered them to $75 for independent drivers and $250 for associations and companies. No permits are required of taxi drivers who only transport passengers from point A to point B.
Park personnel held many public meetings over the course of a year and a half seeking community input in shaping its new Commercial Services Plan. Several months ago, as the Jan. 1 deadline loomed, many taxi drivers said they had been unaware that the fees and permits were in the pipeline.
King has said that tour operators at all 385 National Park Service facilities pay fees.