A Toledo limousine operator yesterday won the exclusive right to provide walk-up taxi service at Toledo Express Airport, signaling an end to sometimes contentious competition among independent cab operators.
Childers Limousine Service will pay the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority 0.8 percent of its gross revenue, with a minimum payment of $12,000 per year, and 0.8 percent of its gross revenue above the minimum threshold, under the agreement that the port authority board of directors approved.
The agreement is for one year with four one-year options.
Awarding a taxi-service concession was recommended to the board by its airport committee, which concluded several months ago that allowing anyone able to pay $400 a year for a medallion to serve the airport was resulting in shoddy taxi service that occasionally embarrassed Toledo.
“This will be a huge improvement,” David Boston, the airport committee chairman, told the board shortly before its 12-0 vote to approve the contract.
Cabbies waiting for fares at the airport complained that the port authority has no right to displace them.
“I've been out here since the day this airport opened up,” said John Wilder, owner of Toledo-based American Limousine. “I've never been written up, and I lose my job over this.”
“There is no justification,” said Abu Abrahim Humaisan, a taxi owner-operator from Detroit who contracts with Xpress Cab Airport Shuttle. “What can I do? Nothing. Maybe get a lawyer.”
Any taxi service will be allowed to respond to calls from the airport requesting pickups, and there is no restriction on who may deliver passengers to the airport. But once its contract begins, only Childers vehicles will be allowed to wait for fares at the airport.
James Hartung, president of the port authority, said the exact date for the Childers contract depends on negotiating some of its terms, but it could be in effect as soon as Nov. 15. John Childers, the company's owner, estimated a Dec. 1 start date.
During committee meetings, Mark Fisher, the port authority police chief, reported chronic complaints about drivers overcharging passengers, getting into fistfights over fares, operating dirty or poorly maintained vehicles, and sometimes taking fares to the wrong places. In one notorious case in April, a Monroe woman, her 70-year-old mother, and 5-year-old daughter were driven to Columbus by a cabbie who had been paid $250 by an airline to take them to Dayton.
“We had to get directions to Dayton at a gas station,” Debbie Lacey said. “We finally arrived two hours later, at midnight. How's that for a wrong turn? I sure hope they improve things out at the airport.”
Mr. Wilder argued that the problems at the airport resulted from city and port authority failures to enforce taxi regulations. The city has issued taxi and vehicle-for-hire plates to too many unqualified drivers, he said, while port authority police do nothing to punish rule violators and have treated law-abiding cabbies “like dogs.”
Now the good-driver majority is being punished for the failures of a few bad apples, Mr. Wilder said.
“The rules were enforced uniformly and fairly,” Brian Schwartz, a port authority spokesman, responded. “We're sorry they feel that way, but that's not the case.”
The other participants are the city of Toledo, Lucas County, the Regional Growth Partnership, the Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce, and the University of Toledo.
The boarding bridge was bid at $377,760 and will be financed with airline rental fees while the $653,701 ramp expansion will be 90 percent funded with federal grant money.