The St. John’s Taxi Association has said no fare increase will take effect before October, 2023.
Discussions with the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA), however, will continue as stakeholders dialogue with the aim of increasing existing fares.
An agreement was reached almost two decades ago with the FCCA for a 20 percent hike in taxi fares that was to be introduced incrementally in 2005 and 2006, but only half of the agreed increase was implemented.
With the drastic increase in the cost of living in the 17 years since 2005, St. John’s Taxi Association has underscored the importance of a new fare structure.
Secretary of St. John’s Taxi Association, Leroy John-Baptiste, said they had “received a response from the FCCA, we have discussed it with the body, we have to go back in committee stage now and we will then make a counter proposal or acceptance to the cruise liners and from there, then we will make a public statement as to what it is we would have gotten”.
As the two sides continue discussions, the FCCA has raised the importance of the association’s members meeting standards critical to the improvement of their trade.
Sean Beazer, Past President of the St. John’s Taxi Association explained, “We’ve gone to the cruise liners and we’ve made our complaints. They’ve also made their complaints to us, so we’re conscious of the fact of what they’re looking for and so we now have to get our house in order.”
Beazer said they are relying on the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority for assistance in training and development.
First aid training, competence in the use of fire extinguishers and the installation of Wi-Fi in taxis are among the proposals being advanced by the FCCA.
While some members are eager to effect the proposed changes, the St. John’s Taxi Association’s Secretary John-Baptiste has expressed concern that there are others who do not share this enthusiasm.
“This association was formed in 1977 and we still have some elements that want to preserve that sort of culture.
“It’s a challenge, we’re not going to hide from it. We’ve come a long way; we do have some real qualified service ambassadors and so we are trying to go around that curve.
“We have made certain commitments to the authorities on the improvement of our standards and qualities, “he concluded.