BWI taxicab contract extended despite continuing protests
After more than a year of controversy, the Board of Public Works approved a contract granting a Maryland taxi franchise the continuing exclusive right to operate and manage the cab service at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.
The board — consisting of Gov. Martin O’Malley, Comptroller Peter Franchot, and State Treasurer Nancy Kopp — voted to extend the contract with BWI Taxi Management, Inc. until June 2017, giving the Linthicum-based company sole jurisdiction over the airport’s taxis.
The contract will generate more than $12 million for the state over five years based on the implementation of a $2.50 fee for each outbound taxi coming from the airport. Cabbies who drop off passengers at the airport are not allowed to pick up fares there.
Over the past year, delays have plagued the procurement of a taxi contract for BWI airport. At a series of board meetings last year, cab drivers turned out in force to protest provisions they feared would cost them their jobs and hurt business. That included a bid from Dulles Airport Taxi, Inc. that would have dramatically changed the business model and reduced the number of cab operators.
Controversy surrounding plans by the out-of-state Dulles Airport Taxi as well as federal complaints about the cabbies labor status as independent contractors led to a delay in the process. After soliciting additional bids from various companies, the state decided to stick with BWI Taxi Management.
The contract approved on Wednesday was applauded by dozens of cab drivers from BWI Taxi Management who filled the Governor’s Reception Room.
Opponents of the measure, including attorney John Singleton, reiterated arguments from previous meetings that BWI Taxi Management does not qualify for the contract. At this point in the process, O’Malley advised Singleton that any further complaints about the contract should be taken to a court of law.
“We’re not really equipped to serve as a national labor relations board,” O’Malley said. “We wouldn’t be at this point if we hadn’t already cleared some of these hurdles.”