Taxi Dispatching System Scheduled To Start in Late March

Plans for renovations to the area around the Cruz Bay ferry dock—including burying overhead utility lines and the establishment of a taxi dispatch system—are underway, according to Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs (DLCA) Commissioner Andrew Rutnik.

“One phase of the process is the actual physical improvements to the dock area, where the taxis currently park,” he said. “We have the engineer drawings done, and we will be submitting them to DPNR (Department of Planning and Natural Resources) soon.”

“We’re going to select a vendor to do the underground work,” said Rutnik who added he is currently waiting for a response from the Department of Finance concerning financing for the project.

“Hopefully we’ll get that response within the next week or two,” he said.

Although the taxi dispatching system should be up and running by late March, a location where the taxis will wait to be dispatched has not yet been chosen.

“We have not yet selected an area that is suitable for them to dispatch from,” he said. “We’ve looked at the tennis courts, but we haven’t really completed that part of it.”

No Taxi Staging Site Chosen
“We have to look at it physically to see that we can accommodate all the taxis that will be put there while they’re waiting to be called to the dock, without taking away any parking spaces,” Rutnik added.

Prior to the implementation of the dispatching system, Rutnik will meet again with the island’s taxi drivers.

“We’ll have another meeting with the taxi drivers, to explain how the system is going to work,” he said. “From the last meeting I went to, except for a very vocal minority, most of the taxi drivers were happy to have an independent dispatcher sending out the fares.”

The current system needs to be changed, said Rutnik, because regulation of the taxis has been difficult.

“The drivers pay a certain fee to be able to work the dock,” he said. “There are people who try to bypass that, claiming that they’re looking for a specific taxi driver. The other problem is, some drivers don’t want to pay to work the dock, but they want the ability to pick people up there if they get a special assignment—it’s become an issue as to what is prearranged and what is not.”

Eliminating Problems
The new system will eliminate these problems, said Rutnik, because all taxis will be included, and will be called in order. “I don’t care who you belong to association-wise, because this will be based on the line system,” he said. “Every taxi will have a number. Now, you have people going to the dock at four in the morning and parking their trucks in line to be there first, and that’s just not fair.”

The system also needs to be revamped, said Rutnik, because of the traffic congestion it causes.

“Now, you have taxis, villa rental people and people waiting to pick up friends parking there, so it’s just a mess,” he said.

The other phase of the project involves the burying of utility lines along the Cruz Bay waterfront.

“There shouldn’t be any more poles along the waterfront,” said Rutnik. “We’re also hoping to put a walkway on the other side of where the parking area is now.”

The walkway will provide a safe environment for pedestrians.

“Right now, everyone is dumped right in the road, and it’s dangerous,” he said. “It’s a problem, and we hope to organize it.” Cooperation has helped to move the project along, said Rutnik, but delays have been encountered.

“It’s a cooperative effort, and we’re moving ahead,” he said. “As with all things in government, the wheels are turning slowly, but they’re turning.”