North Shore Taxi Shuttle Service Is “Imminent Change,” Says Hardgrove

The V.I. National Park is trying to work out a North Shore taxi shuttle service with the Taxi Commission.

A regularly scheduled shuttle service on the North Shore Road will likely be implemented this year, with or without the participation of St. John taxi drivers.

V.I. National Park Superintendent Mark Hardgrove is calling for the V.I. Taxicab Commission to present its plan by the end of this month before the park moves on to other options.

The idea for the shuttle service was born out of National Park Foundation Transportation Scholar Beth Isler’s November 2009 visit to the island.

“There are a number of items that we’re trying to implement as part of her strategy,” said VINP Superintendent Mark Hardgrove.

The V.I. Taxicab Commission supports the idea; however, Hardgrove’s hope that the commission will submit a plan detailing the specifics of a shuttle service by the end of this month may not be realized.

“They voted to organize themselves and get back to us on what they’d like to see implemented,” said Hardgrove. “With the population increase and increase of visitation, it’s an imminent change. The issue is who is going to deliver the services.”

If the Taxicab Commission does not respond in time, the VINP has plans in place to offer the shuttle service itself, or to partner with VITRAN.

The Taxicab Commission is indeed interested in providing the shuttle service; however, it is waiting for a proposal from St. John taxi company Paris Taxi Service, explained the commission’s executive director, Judy Wheatley.

“I’m waiting for them to give me a proposal so I can see if it meets the Taxi Commission’s criteria,” said Wheatley. “I know the taxi drivers recognize they need to take the ball and run with it so VITRAN doesn’t step in. There are additional revenues they can make.”

Wheatley was confident she would hear from Paris Taxi Service “soon,” she said, and as long as Paris’ proposal falls under the commission’s guidelines, she will endorse the proposal and present it to Hardgrove.

Neither Hardgrove nor Wheatley knew any specifics of the shuttle service proposal, including cost and schedule.

“A reduced rate is a possibility,” said Wheatley. “It would be a scheduled run by taxis which would pass on the north shore in designated areas where people would know to wait. The idea is to keep service in those areas all the time for folks at the beaches.”

Any reduced rate has to be approved by the Taxi Commission, Wheatley added.

The VINP is prepared to fully support the Taxi Commission’s proposal, provided it is presented in a timely manner, explained Hardgrove.

“When they get back to us on what they’d like to see implemented, we’ll support that,” he said.