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HomeNewsArchivesTAXI ASSOCIATION GIVES IN, GETS PARK PERMIT

TAXI ASSOCIATION GIVES IN, GETS PARK PERMIT

Nov. 14, 2002 – After three taxi drivers got $50 tickets for operating in the V.I. National Park without permits, the St. John Taxi Association finally gave in and paid the $250 fee for a blanket permit for its 60 members on Thursday, park Superintendent John King said.
"It's over and done with," King said of the resistance to the annual permit fee that raged for more than a year.
He said a taxi association representative started the paperwork process on Wednesday and picked up the permit and decals for all of the association members on Thursday.
King noted that the 2002 permit is only good until Dec. 31, and a new one will be required for 2003.
The brouhaha over the permit fees began in the fall of 2001, year when taxi drivers learned they would need permits to operate in the park beginning Jan. 1 of this year. Park officials had held numerous public meetings on their proposed Commercial Services Plan, which includes the permit requirement, but the taxi drivers claimed they didn't know they would have to pay a fee for a permit to conduct tours within the park. (No permit or fee is required for transporting passengers from point A to point B.)
Initially, the tour fees were to be $300 for independent drivers and $750 for associations and companies. In an effort to bring reluctant taxi drivers into compliance, King lowered the fees to $75 and $250, respectively, last November. The taxi drivers still refused to comply.
The permit program went into effect as scheduled on Jan. 1, but because the St. John Taxi Association took the park to court, park officials held off issuing tickets.
Many tour operators and independent taxi drivers and about a dozen of the St. John Taxi Association's members got permits on their own so they could continue to work in the park On Sept. 27, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Moore ruled that the park had the right to require the permits and to impose the fees for them.
King said on Tuesday that the park waited until after the Nov. 5 elections to start giving out tickets to those without permits so that the move would not become a campaign issue.
Since the three drivers were cited, King said, several individual association drivers have come in on their own to get permits. They've each had to pay the $75 rate.
The island has a total of 132 taxi drivers and tour operators.
King said he views taxi drivers as important partners with the park and is pleased the issue has finally been resolved. "I hope we will be able to put his behind us," he said.
St. John Taxi Association spokeswoman Lorelei Monsanto could not be reached for comment.

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Nov. 14, 2002 - After three taxi drivers got $50 tickets for operating in the V.I. National Park without permits, the St. John Taxi Association finally gave in and paid the $250 fee for a blanket permit for its 60 members on Thursday, park Superintendent John King said.
"It's over and done with," King said of the resistance to the annual permit fee that raged for more than a year.
He said a taxi association representative started the paperwork process on Wednesday and picked up the permit and decals for all of the association members on Thursday.
King noted that the 2002 permit is only good until Dec. 31, and a new one will be required for 2003.
The brouhaha over the permit fees began in the fall of 2001, year when taxi drivers learned they would need permits to operate in the park beginning Jan. 1 of this year. Park officials had held numerous public meetings on their proposed Commercial Services Plan, which includes the permit requirement, but the taxi drivers claimed they didn't know they would have to pay a fee for a permit to conduct tours within the park. (No permit or fee is required for transporting passengers from point A to point B.)
Initially, the tour fees were to be $300 for independent drivers and $750 for associations and companies. In an effort to bring reluctant taxi drivers into compliance, King lowered the fees to $75 and $250, respectively, last November. The taxi drivers still refused to comply.
The permit program went into effect as scheduled on Jan. 1, but because the St. John Taxi Association took the park to court, park officials held off issuing tickets.
Many tour operators and independent taxi drivers and about a dozen of the St. John Taxi Association's members got permits on their own so they could continue to work in the park On Sept. 27, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Moore ruled that the park had the right to require the permits and to impose the fees for them.
King said on Tuesday that the park waited until after the Nov. 5 elections to start giving out tickets to those without permits so that the move would not become a campaign issue.
Since the three drivers were cited, King said, several individual association drivers have come in on their own to get permits. They've each had to pay the $75 rate.
The island has a total of 132 taxi drivers and tour operators.
King said he views taxi drivers as important partners with the park and is pleased the issue has finally been resolved. "I hope we will be able to put his behind us," he said.
St. John Taxi Association spokeswoman Lorelei Monsanto could not be reached for comment.

Publisher's note : Like the St. John Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much -- and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice ... click here.