The West Tisbury selectmen agreed to allow Alpha Taxi this week to double the size of its cab fleet, over the objection of the two other taxi companies in town.
Alpha Taxi owner Benoit Baldwin requested two more taxi permits for his company, bringing the total to four. In a letter to the board, Mr. Baldwin said he needed the additional permits for an anticipated increase in future service, including for specially-chartered events in the coming months.
Two weeks ago Mr. Baldwin opposed a transfer of ownership for Lighthouse Taxi, another company in town. Selectman and board chairman Richard Knabel took note of this.
“You were protesting a change of license from the company to another, saying there were enough cabs [in town] but now you’re asking for two more,” Mr. Knabel said.
Mr. Baldwin said his opposition was to the new owners.
“But it’s still two more cabs,” Mr. Knabel said.
Selectman Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter 3rd said the new licenses benefit the Island more than town residents [most of the taxi business in West Tisbury is centered at the airport], but he supported the application. He suggested reviewing the town taxi regulations in the fall.
The three West Tisbury taxi companies are Alpha, Bluefish and Lighthouse. All operate out of the airport. With the new licenses, there are a total of 12 cabs in town. Each company holds four licenses.
Samantha Church, owner of Bluefish Taxi, opposed the added licenses for Alpha.
“He’s only had the company for four months and I’m unsure why he has a need for extra permits,” she said. “Two weeks ago he was against any new cabs on the road.”
Lighthouse Taxi owner Antoniya Sabev suggested if Mr. Baldwin needed more vehicles, he could borrow from other companies.
The selectmen approved the permits two to one; Mr. Knabel was the dissenting vote.
In other business, town administrator Jennifer Rand reported that the state joint transportation committee is expected to approve funding for the traffic improvement project at the intersection of Old County and State Roads. If approved, the project would be funded for 2014. “That’s great news,” selectman Cynthia Mitchell said.
A previous version fo ths article incorrectly satated that the selectmen had approved to new licenses, not permits, and that the vote was unanimous. The article also incorrectly reported the name of the owner of Lighthouse Taxi; it is Antoniya Sabev. The Gazette regrets the errors.