When passengers fly into the Gulf Coast, cab drivers are often the first impression they get of the Coast, but new regulations are pending for cab drivers working the airport. A number of taxi drivers found themselves at a conference table this morning as a cab driven issue takes center stage at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport.
Leisa Leisy, the President of the Gulf Coast Taxi Association, says, “They are trying to get one to three companies, which would be a monopoly, but they run out of cabs as it is.” Airport Director, Clay Williams, says that's not the case. He says the airport's concerns are simple and customer-based. Williams says, "Conveniences, being able to pay with a credit or debit card. How about accessing military bases?"
The concern for the client is shared by the drivers, who say more regulations will inconvenience passengers most. Leisy also says, “You're going to have people on the curb, not making their connection in New Orleans or Mobile. It's not fair to the client.” There are currently 14 cab companies in compliance at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. They're concerned that if they're restricted from being a part of this line up, their livelihood will be at stake.
Richard Smith of Value Cab says, “We're out here now trying to see what's going on with another rule change and we're losing money.” Smith has been a driver for 24 years and says he has watched too many rules change. Smith also says, “None of us know what's going to happen because they keep us in the dark until it’s time for the meeting.” Jack Gazzo, also of Value Cab, says, “All we want is a fair playing field. We do not want to be denied the right to pick up our customers at the airport.”
The ground transportation meeting was followed by an afternoon conference with airport commissioners, who say they want to make the ride smoother for everyone. Williams closes, “We're just looking at the standards of operating. You only get one chance to make a first impression.” Any changes in taxi regulations would have to be approved by the county.