Airport Back For Council Approval Of Taxi Contracts

Jun 13, 2011

A controversial proposal to upgrade taxi service at the airport by limiting the number of cab companies given access to passengers is yet again scheduled for a Charlotte City Council vote tonight. The council has already delayed its decision a number of times because of opposition from the taxi industry and revelations about criminal convictions of owners at one of the companies originally recommended for an airport contract. More than two years ago, Charlotte Aviation Director Jerry Orr, began working on a plan to improve the taxi experience at the airport. He's convinced that by limiting which cab companies can wait for passengers, visitors to Charlotte will have a better experience. "We get all kind of complaints about taxis running out of gas and having to get paid in advance so the driver can put gas in the vehicle," says Orr. "We hear about poor service and dirty cabs and on and on and on." Months ago, Orr was ready to sign contracts with three cab companies that would commit to a higher standard of service at the airport. But one of the companies turned out to be co-owned by convicted felons, so the city council put off approving the contract. Cab drivers and company owners from across the city complained the selection process was biased, which led to yet more scrutiny by city council members. Now Orr is back for approval to sign contracts with three companies - Yellow Cab, Crown Cab and City Cab - that would take effect in July. Orr sounded frustrated at the last Airport Advisory Council Meeting. "We have invested an incredible amount of staff time in this issue," said Orr. "Had we suspected this on the front-end, we undoubtedly would have taken a different route." Orr says he decided early on to involve the City Council in changes to taxi service at the airport. But according to city ordinance, he didn't have to.