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Cab Commission Won't Approve New Safari Taxis

March 2, 2009 — There won't be any new safari taxis, the V.I. Taxicab Commission has ruled.
The Feb. 20 decision was made public Tuesday in a news release from the commission. It said the commission won't approve any newly built safari taxis without receipt of an approved modification permit dated before Feb. 20.
Safaris already registered will be permitted continued registration by the owner, or if sold or transferred to a new owner, the release said. These vehicles will still have to undergo the standard procedures for inspections with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the VITCC.
The reasons for the decision were twofold, according to VITCC Executive Director Judith Wheatley. She estimates that there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 safari taxis on St. Thomas, but said her commission has no way of knowing the total number.
"The primary discussion [at the commission meeting] was the safety of the passengers and the community in general," Wheatley said.
Safety features such as seatbelts were part of the commission's discussion, according to the executive director. The commission's discussion also focused on providing taxi service to the local community, and this would have to be accomplished by vehicles that can provide service to more than tourists, she said.
"We have kind of strayed away from taxi service," Wheatley said.
The commission was concerned that locals are sometimes unable to get adequate taxi service, and get dropped off some distance from their destination, or told that they could not be picked up at their location. Much of this kind of service is based on the large safari taxis' inability to maneuver in the tight driving conditions common on St. Thomas.
The process requires a modification permit from the BMV, and then the plans are reviewed at the VITCC. The vehicles are inspected through the process and the seating is reviewed, Wheatley explained.
The implications of the decision are still coming to light. One safari taxi driver, who wished to remain anonymous, had been prepared to sell his current vehicle on Tuesday, but news of the decision had him reconsidering the sale.
The decision may also have the consequence of driving up the price of existing safari taxis.
The commission also voted Feb.20 to amend the moratorium on issuance of Class C licenses. Under the moratorium, only veterans or their offspring were permitted to sit the exam for the Class C license.
There are only 1,283 medallions issued on St. Thomas, according to Wheatley.
Medallions are often passed down through a family and are very difficult to come by. Under the moratorium, someone who inherited a medallion was only permitted to use it if they could pass the Class C license exam, and they were only permitted to sit the exam if they were a veteran or the offspring of a veteran, Wheatley explained.
The amendment will allow owners of taxicab medallions to take the exam, regardless of their service or relation to a serviceman. Not all medallions are even in use, according to the executive director.
A medallion can become inactive for a number of reasons, including a death, a medallion going in probate or, in some cases, an owner bequeathing a medallion to some family member not eligible to take the exam, Wheatley explained.
The Class C license application must be completed through the VITCC and is effective for a period of six months beginning April 1. This amendment does not change the proviso granted to veterans or their offspring, the release said.
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March 2, 2009 -- There won't be any new safari taxis, the V.I. Taxicab Commission has ruled.
The Feb. 20 decision was made public Tuesday in a news release from the commission. It said the commission won't approve any newly built safari taxis without receipt of an approved modification permit dated before Feb. 20.
Safaris already registered will be permitted continued registration by the owner, or if sold or transferred to a new owner, the release said. These vehicles will still have to undergo the standard procedures for inspections with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the VITCC.
The reasons for the decision were twofold, according to VITCC Executive Director Judith Wheatley. She estimates that there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 safari taxis on St. Thomas, but said her commission has no way of knowing the total number.
"The primary discussion [at the commission meeting] was the safety of the passengers and the community in general," Wheatley said.
Safety features such as seatbelts were part of the commission's discussion, according to the executive director. The commission's discussion also focused on providing taxi service to the local community, and this would have to be accomplished by vehicles that can provide service to more than tourists, she said.
"We have kind of strayed away from taxi service," Wheatley said.
The commission was concerned that locals are sometimes unable to get adequate taxi service, and get dropped off some distance from their destination, or told that they could not be picked up at their location. Much of this kind of service is based on the large safari taxis' inability to maneuver in the tight driving conditions common on St. Thomas.
The process requires a modification permit from the BMV, and then the plans are reviewed at the VITCC. The vehicles are inspected through the process and the seating is reviewed, Wheatley explained.
The implications of the decision are still coming to light. One safari taxi driver, who wished to remain anonymous, had been prepared to sell his current vehicle on Tuesday, but news of the decision had him reconsidering the sale.
The decision may also have the consequence of driving up the price of existing safari taxis.
The commission also voted Feb.20 to amend the moratorium on issuance of Class C licenses. Under the moratorium, only veterans or their offspring were permitted to sit the exam for the Class C license.
There are only 1,283 medallions issued on St. Thomas, according to Wheatley.
Medallions are often passed down through a family and are very difficult to come by. Under the moratorium, someone who inherited a medallion was only permitted to use it if they could pass the Class C license exam, and they were only permitted to sit the exam if they were a veteran or the offspring of a veteran, Wheatley explained.
The amendment will allow owners of taxicab medallions to take the exam, regardless of their service or relation to a serviceman. Not all medallions are even in use, according to the executive director.
A medallion can become inactive for a number of reasons, including a death, a medallion going in probate or, in some cases, an owner bequeathing a medallion to some family member not eligible to take the exam, Wheatley explained.
The Class C license application must be completed through the VITCC and is effective for a period of six months beginning April 1. This amendment does not change the proviso granted to veterans or their offspring, the release said.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.