Proposed Taxi Test Program Canceled at Minneapolis-St. Paul International
Other Options Will be Considered To Improve Taxi Service
MINNEAPOLIS & ST. PAUL, Minn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A proposed pilot program aimed at preventing travelers from being denied taxi service because they have alcohol in their possession has not and will not be implemented, Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) Executive Director Jeff Hamiel said today.
“However, based on public response to the proposed test program, it is clear that its implementation could have unintended and significant negative impacts on the taxi industry as a whole.”
“The test program was developed in concert with representatives from the Muslim American Society and airport taxi industry in an effort to ensure travelers are not refused cab service for carrying alcohol,” Hamiel said. “However, based on public response to the proposed test program, it is clear that its implementation could have unintended and significant negative impacts on the taxi industry as a whole.”
Under the pilot program, drivers who are unwilling to transport people carrying alcohol would have a different toplight on their vehicles, enabling MAC employees to direct travelers visibly carrying alcohol to other taxis. Public response to the proposed program has been overwhelmingly against creation of a two-tiered taxi service system. Some taxi service providers have expressed fears that people opposed to the program will choose other ground transportation options rather than take any taxi from the airport.
At the time discussion of the issue with the taxi industry began in May, cab drivers were refusing to transport customers with alcohol from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport 77 times per month, on average. However, recent changes in federal regulations now prohibit air travelers from taking most liquids – including alcoholic beverages – in quantities larger than three ounces through security checkpoints. Since the federal liquids prohibition went into effect in August, far fewer people are noticeably carrying alcohol through airports or subsequently being refused service by taxi drivers.
“The scope of the problem has changed considerably since we began working on a two-toplight solution,” Hamiel said. “My hope is that representatives from the airport taxi industry will work with us toward assessing these changes and promptly resolving this issue in the best interest of their customers. The bottom line is that no one should be denied taxi service simply because they have alcohol in their possession. That is the ultimate outcome we want to achieve.”
The refusal-of-service issue stems from the expressed religious beliefs of some taxi drivers at MSP, who say transporting alcohol is forbidden in the Koran. Currently, taxi drivers who refuse fares on this basis forfeit their place in the airport taxi queue and return to the back of the line, in keeping with MAC Ordinance 102.