Now that Cayman has gotten back on its feet after Hurricane Ivan, taxis may be facing some changes in coming months.
Since Ivan’s devastating impact on local tourism, the Port Authority has exempted all taxi drivers who work the port from administrative fees.
Port Authority Manager of Cruise Operations and Security Joseph Woods said that before Ivan, these fees were used to pay for the upkeep and maintenance of the taxi dispatch centre and facilities.
These costs are now being absorbed by Port Authority dispatchers, who also have been assisting taxi operators in coordinating tour bookings.
‘Now that cruise tourism is back on track in Cayman, it seems reasonable to contemplate reintroducing the fees,’ said Mr. Woods.
With approximately 380 licensed operators, he commented that the taxi business is doing very well due in part to a recently developed system which ensures all eligible taxi drivers get a spot at the port.
A rotational system designates a priority group of 25 taxi operators each day, while the rest are drawn randomly.
This system ensures that drivers have equal access to cruise ship fares.
Taxi operators subject to Public Transport Board regulations are expected to comply with rules protecting the priority system which state that no drivers of a bus or taxi can pick up on North Church Street, Harbour Drive between Boiler’s road and Fort Street between 6am and 6pm.
‘Unfortunately, some people do not wish to be regulated, and they operate outside the regulations by independently seeking out customers and undercutting legitimate operators,’ said Mr. Woods.
He said that the lack of cooperation on the part of some taxi drivers is unfortunate considering the large numbers of drivers who do comply with the regulations and are doing their best to improve the business.
Recent initiatives targeting customer service training and introduction of uniforms have also been successful in raising the positive image of taxi drivers in Cayman, he said.