STITA Replaced By Yellow Cab At Airport; Drivers Protest At Seattle City Hall
by Jack Mayne
The Seattle Tacoma International Taxi Association (STITA) is no long providing service to passengers at the airport when at 2 a.m. Monday morning (Nov. 1st) the contract was taken over by Yellow Cab.
Most STITA cabs have only county licenses and are unable to pick up passengers inside the City of Seattle so an estimated 70 STITA cabs encircled City Hall downtown in a demonstration aimed at getting Mayor Mike McGinn to grant it temporary city licenses so it can operate in Seattle. Only 22 of the company’s 185 cabs have licenses to pick up passengers inside the city.
In a letter to the mayor, Harpreet S. Bassi, president of the STITA board of directors, said, “With Yellow Cab serving the Port now, many more City-licensed cabs are needed to avoid a shortage of taxi service in Seattle.
The Port contract with Yellow requires a large standby-by fleet of cabs at the airport so that incoming Seattle-Tacoma International Airport passengers can get taxis quickly.
“Now, Yellow Cab is serving the airport,” wrote Bassi to the mayor. “In order to fulfill its contractual commitments, including a minimum five-minute wait time for passengers, Yellow is moving a large chunk of its fleet – with more city-licensed cabs than any other taxi company in Seattle – to Sea-Tac Airport.
“With additional city licenses, STITA is ready to provide safe, reliable, professional service in its environmentally friendly vehicles to Seattle, creating a winning solution for the city and for STITA and its hundreds of families.”
The Port virtually created STITA 20 years ago in order to bring reliable taxi service to Sea-Tac that had previously seen great fluctuations of cab availabilities. Then last year, the Port decided to open the contract to bidding from the other cab companies in the area. The result was Yellow won the bid and was given the Port contract.
The change in contract was held for over two months while a legal battle launched by STITA was argued in court, a battle that STITA largely lost.
Aaron Pickus, assistant communications director in Mayor McGinn’s office, said at mid-afternoon there would be no immediate official response to the letter that they did not receive until after noon on Monday.
“They are asking for temporary licenses but the city does not issue temporary taxi licenses,” Pickus said. “We did look at the problem of cab licenses and we found there was not a need for more cab licenses at this time.”
Here’s the letter STITA sent to Mayor McGinn (click image to see larger version):
Read our previous coverage of the STITA issue here.