State Supreme Court Asked To Review Ruling On Port’s Taxi Contract
by Jack Mayne
The fight over which taxicab company will get an exclusive contract to provide cab service for people leaving the airport continued Tuesday (July 6) when the Washington State Supreme Court was asked to review the legal case.
The Seattle-Tacoma International Taxi Association (STITA) is asking the State Supreme Court to review and overturn a recent decision by the State Appeals Court that denied STITA’s objections of a proposed new Port contract with Yellow Cab.
Filing of the appeal to the state high court means a stay prohibiting the Port from signing the new contract with Yellow remains in effect until the court either rejects reviewing the case or rules against STITA and in favor of Yellow.
The current STITA contract is due to end on August 31 and the Port is pressing to be allowed to sign the new agreement so Yellow Cab can prepare to provide service to the thousands to passengers who arrive at Sea-Tac and who seek taxi service. Any cab company can take people to the airport, but only a primary contractor may pick up passengers leaving the airport.
STITA’s original case says the Port’s new proposed concession fees violate the state’s Airports Act because it lets the Port “auction off” its monopoly taxi concession to the highest bidder rather than basing fees on “uniform and reasonable” charges, as the law provides. The agreement also fails to give “due regard” to setting charges based on the property used and cost of operations.
“We hope the state Supreme Court will hear our case,” said Jesse Buttar, a spokesman for STITA. “We believe there are significant questions the court will be interested in addressing.”
The Port faces two lawsuits stemming from the December 2009 awarding of the on-demand taxi contract at Sea-Tac to Yellow Taxi, which would end a 20-year relationship with STITA cab drivers.
In a second lawsuit, filed by Farwest Taxi, STITA alleged last week that the Port of Seattle violated the state’s Open Public Meetings Act by substantially altering a proposed contract behind closed doors and without further review by the Port Commissioners.
The Port released a statement noting the Port Commission, “as it routinely does, authorized staff to proceed with the award to Puget Sound Dispatch (Yellow Cab) and has delegated staff sufficient authority to achieve that end. The authorization and delegation properly occurred in an open public meeting. There has been no violation of the Open Public Meetings Act.”
Perry Cooper, the Sea-Tac media officer, said the Port never comments on pending legal matters, so would have no comment on the Supreme Court filing.