STITA Taxi Files Lawsuit Against Port Of Seattle For Breaking Contract


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On Monday (Feb. 1st), the Seattle-Tacoma International Taxi Association (STITA) announced a lawsuit against the Port of Seattle to stop the Port from “unfairly awarding” its airport taxi contract to Yellow Cab (Puget Sound Dispatch).

In the lawsuit, STITA contends that the Port’s bidding process violated the state Airports Act, because the Port discontinued its prior practice of charging fees to taxicabs based on the airport’s actual cost of services provided to the cabbies. Instead, it required bidders to commit to pay an unfair concession fee of at least 10 percent of their airport-based revenues. This violates the Airports Act, which says airport concession fees must be based upon the Airport’s actual cost of operations and be reasonable and uniform.

STITA has 216 cabs, 450 drivers, and claims to have brought in $10.58 million to the Port between 2004 and 2008.

According to a press release sent to us by STITA:

On Friday, STITA filed a complaint asking the court to halt the Port from signing a contract that violates state law. STITA seeks a fair and legal proposal process in which all bidders can compete on a level playing field.

“If you think it’s difficult to hail a cab in Seattle now, wait to see what will happen if STITA cabs are put out of business,” said Jesse Buttar, STITA cab owner. “We’re trying to make sure that doesn’t happen. We’re asking the Port to reconsider and allow us to fairly compete for the airport contract. We’re sorry this has come to legal action, but we STITA members are ready to fight against what we feel was an unfair process by the Port of Seattle.”

In 1989, STITA – a non-profit co-op with the greenest cab fleet in the country – was created by the Port of Seattle to exclusively serve the airport and provide reliable service to airport users. Now, after an unfair proposal process, STITA and its approximately 450 members and drivers will essentially be put out of business.

“People tell us to go work for Yellow, but we can’t,” said Kanwarjit Bassi, who followed in his father’s footsteps and drives a STITA cab. “We don’t have Seattle for-hire licenses and it’s nearly impossible to get one. We were prevented from expanding service outside of the airport by the Port and now it’s telling us to go away. But, there’s nowhere to go.”

In its lawsuit, STITA contends the Port’s bidding process violated the state Airports Act because the Port discontinued its prior practice of charging fees to taxicabs based on the airport’s actual cost of services provided to the cabbies. Instead, it required bidders to commit to pay an unfair concession fee of at least 10 percent of their airport-based revenues. This violates the Airports Act, which says airport concession fees must be based upon the Airport’s actual cost of operations and be reasonable and uniform.

STITA contends the Port’s bidding process caused a predatory bidding war among taxi companies which not only was illegal but will be financially devastating to the King County taxi industry.

STITA’s lawsuit also contends that the Port’s new concession fee violates the King County Code, which requires the King County Council to set the taxi meter rate at a level that is “just and reasonable.” The Port’s new concession fee cuts directly into the county’s taxi meter rate and prevents cab operators from receiving the gross receipts that they legally are entitled to receive.

“I’ve driven a cab for 35 years – mostly seven days a week,” said Patty Stephens. “It wasn’t an easy living, but at the end of the day I barely made enough to feed my family. And I could take care of sick children or go to their soccer games without getting fired. It’s the only life we know; my daughter and son both drive a cab too. We’re all out of jobs if STITA loses this contract.”

Despite notice from STITA protesting these glaring problems with the process and proposed contract, the Port of Seattle declined to re-do its flawed proposal and said it would sign an agreement with Yellow Cab. STITA had no recourse but legal action.

STITA’s complaint will go before a King County judge on Thursday.

STITA BY THE NUMBERS:

  • Cabs: 216
  • Owner-Operators: 283
  • Total number of drivers, including owner-operators: approximately 450
  • Founded: 1989 as non-profit association

Declining trips in 2009 do not reflect new light rail service to the airport and how it will likely decrease future cab demand.

Current per-trip fee paid to Port for airport pickup:

  • $3.05 in 2009;
  • $1.80 in 2010.

Current STITA contract ends August 31, 2010.

Revenues to Port:

  • STITA, 2004 – 2008: $10.58 million

Number of on-demand taxi trips at Sea-Tac Airport

  • 2004: 578,259
  • 2005: 639,751
  • 2006: 648,275
  • 2007: 732,694
  • 2008: 740,867
  • 2009: 676,010 (estimate)

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Comments

8 Responses to “STITA Taxi Files Lawsuit Against Port Of Seattle For Breaking Contract”
  1. HoBo says:

    The Port should NOT be in the taxi busness to begin with!

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  2. Robert says:

    Agreed! Why limit it to jus two companies? I don’t understand how STITA can complain, they have had exclusive rights to the airport fir years!!

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  3. outofwork says:

    Because we were designed to be a on demand airport taxi. The Port of Seattle demanded it in our contract. The port has stopped every effort STITA has made to gain off airport business. They want total CONTROL over everything the taxis do.

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  4. Rob says:

    These guys (STITA) expect fairness from the port of Seattle??? Hey when your in business with the devil…

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  5. Greg Fox says:

    This is about control and money.
    The port wants to have control over which cab company operates in their airport so that they (the airport not the cab company) can make more money.
    Unfortunately, there is nothing anyone can do about this and it will only cost everyone additional money (in court and lawyer fees) to go thru with this exercise in futility.
    The port has made up its mind and that is that!

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  6. Mike says:

    STITA (Seattle Tacoma International Taxi Association) was formed by Port of Seattle in 1980 (something), port of Seattle asked Yellow cab (Puget Sound Dispatch) and Farwest taxi to work for Port of Seattle back then. Both Yellow and Farwest said NO to port of Seattle….that they don’t want to work for Port of Seattle. After, both companies rejected to work for port of Seattle, then port of Seattle formed its own taxi and it’s STITA…Port of Seattle did not allow STITA, to do business outside the airport, because they told STITA they are only allowed to work for Sea-Tac-International Airport. The STITA cabbies are allowed to pick up fair from airport ONLY not from anywhere else. Yellow cabbies, Farwest cabbies and Orange cabbies can pick up fair from Airport and also outside the airport too. After so many years why Port of Seattle is throwing STITA out? Why Port of Seattle did not allow STITA to do business outside the airport? STITA is part of Port of Seattle..if they screw STITA..they will screw Yellow in the long run. DO NOT TRUST PORT OF SEATTLE…THEY ARE CROOK!!!!!!

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    • Chump Change says:

      Mike, you are grossly incorrect. The Airport contract is an exclusive contract between STITA and the Port of Seattle, and has been since 1989 (not ’80). While other cabs can drop off passengers, only STITA can pick up new passengers at the airport, which supports cab operations with facilities and access to hundreds of thousands of cab fares each year. The contract is lucrative.

      STITA cabs who happen to have a City of Seattle license can pick up passengers in Seattle, although few have that license (the City of Seattle caps the number of licensees). ALL STITA CABS HAVE KING COUNTY LICENSES. That means that those STITA cabs can pick up passengers anywhere in King County (outside Seattle), giving them access to 1.2 million people.

      Facts have a troubling way of getting in front of emotional hogwash.

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      • Mike says:

        Chump, you are grossly incorrect.

        Mr. or Mrs. Chump get your facts straighten out:

        1. Other cabs are allowed to pick up fare from Airport, because they have King County License plate as well as City Plate.
        2. Total taxis STITA organization has are 166+50= 216. The 50 cabs only have dual license plate, meaning they have King County and City (they all came from your employer Yellow, Puget Sound Dispatch). The other 166 cabs are ONLY allowed to pick up fare from Airport ONLY. Why? Because the Port of Seattle did not allowed the 166 cabs to do business outside the airport. The 50 cabs were put in STITA, by Port of Seattle order.
        3. The 166 cabs include CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) and Hybrid taxi, out of those 166 cabs not one taxi is on regular gas. If you don’t know what CNG and Hybrid is, the GOOGLE it Mr. or Mrs. Chump.
        4. STITA is doing very GOOD JOB for the environment and there customer services are top notch.

        I am not working for STITA nor do I work for any other Taxi organization. I am US citizen expressing my speech accordingly to FIRST AMENDMENT (FRREDOM OF SPEECH). If you don’t know what do I mean by that…ask your employer or GOOGLE it.

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