STITA Loses Round, Vows To Fight On To Retain Airport Cab Service Contract

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by Jack Mayne

The Seattle-Tacoma International Taxicab Association (STITA) lost another round in its fight to retain a contract with the Port of Seattle to be the sole provider of cab service leaving the airport, a contract it has held for about 20 years.

The Washington Supreme Court on Thursday (Aug. 5) declined to review an appeals court decision upholding the Port of Seattle’s award of the outbound taxi service contract to Yellow Cab. The Court also dissolved a stay preventing a new contract between Yellow and the Port and, within moments of the high court’s decision being announced Friday morning, the Port signed a new contract with Yellow that will take effect on Nov. 1

Chris Van Dyk, the principal of the Bainbridge Media Group and the person who authored the Yellow Cab bid, issued a news release Friday:

“You will be pleased to know that . . . the Washington State Supreme Court denied certiorari (review) of the STITA appeal of the temporary injunction that had been issued, blocking contract signing between the Port and Yellow, in this case,” Van Dyk wrote. “Accordingly, the Port of Seattle has signed the contract for outbound taxicab services with Puget Sound Dispatch dba Yellow Taxi Association, and Yellow will begin outbound on-demand (curbside pickup) taxicab service at SeaTac on Nov. 1, 2010.”

The original STITA contract was supposed to have ended on August 31, but was extended by the port for 60 days because of the legal battle, plus the fact Yellow would need time to redeploy cabs to the airport and to make other arrangement to take over the service, said Perry Cooper, spokesman for the airport.

Despite the setback, STITA attorney Michael Goldfarb of the Seattle firm of Peterson Young and Putra, said the case was still a long way from being over.

Goldfarb says he plans to file a motion in another suit involving cab service at the airport. STITA will allege the contract signed between Yellow and the Port is illegal because there were “significant changes: made after the contract outlined in Yellow’s original bid.

“Our position is that the Port negotiated wholesale changes to the agreement and any such changes were never approved by the Port Commission (in a public meeting),” said Goldfarb. “We will ask the (King County Superior Court) to nullify the contract,” the attorney said.

“Even though the important issues raised by this first case won’t be heard by the state’s highest court, we still have a strong position in a second case,” said Jesse Buttar, STITA spokesman. “We still look to the Port to restore the public trust in this contract and process.”

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