Tom Bolt, Managing Attorney of Tom Bolt & Associates, P.C., and General Counsel for the USVI Hotel & Tourism Association, during the General Meeting of the Association on Wednesday at the Emerald Beach Hotel proposed that the VI Taxicab Commission adopt a “Taxicab Riders Bill of Rights”. Judith Wheatley, Executive Director of the VI Taxicab Commission was the keynote speaker at the Hotel and Tourism Association meeting.
In addressing the members of the Hotel and Tourism Association, Wheatley noted that the Taxicab Commission was under new leadership and committed to the customer service. When the floor opened to questions, Bolt proposed that the local Commission consider adopting a “Taxicab Riders Bill of Rights” that would clearly delineate the rights that Virgin Islands taxicab riders can expect.
The proposed “Taxicab Riders Bill of Rights” provides that taxicab riders are entitled to:
- A driver that speaks and understands English; that knows and obeys all traffic laws; is knowledgeable of island geography; and is able to take you to your destination in the quickest time and by the shortest route;
- A taxi driver who practices good hygiene, does not smoke in their cab and is polite and respectful of their customers;
- To a taxi that arrives at the pick up point within a reasonable amount of time after a request has been placed;
- To see your driver’s automobile for hire identification badge visibly posted in the vehicle;
- A ride in a taxicab that is in safe working order with functioning air condition (if applicable), a clean passenger and trunk compartment, and a clean exterior;
- For persons with disabilities to ride in a wheelchair accessible taxi, accompanied by a service animal (when applicable), and to have easy access for physically challenged passengers;
- A noise free trip; no deliberate horn honking, no boisterous music on radio, and a driver who is not using their cell phone to conduct a personal conversation;
- To be charged the rates as posted on the official tariff issued by the Virgin Islands Taxicab Commission including any surcharges and to be able to view the official tariff if a discrepancy arises;
- To file complaints and offer commendations by calling the Virgin Islands Taxicab Commission at (340) 693-4211; and
- Decline to tip for poor service.
In addressing the Hotel and Tourism Association, Bolt noted that his proposal was based upon Virgin Islands law and other taxicab rider bill of rights that have been adopted throughout the United States. “"It is unacceptable to the Virgin Islanders and our guests who utilize our taxicabs every day cannot expect basic levels of service." Bolt said. "If customer service is the new watchword of our Taxicab Commission, they should also agree to give our riders what is required by law and is the industry standard."
Bolt requested that the Bill of Rights become VI Taxicab Commission policy and be posted in every cab. “Virgin Islanders demand better taxicab service and Taxicab Riders Riders’ Bill of Rights would ensure a more equitable relationship between the taxicab industry and its riders.” Wheatley agreed to present the Bill of Rights before the next meeting of the VI Taxicab Commission.