When you hop in a cab, you would probably assume the cab driver is licensed, right? Perhaps not.
It’s law, if you drive a taxi cab in Burlington, you must be licensed to do so. But not all laws are easy to enforce.
“If someone were just to put a magnet on the car doors and say 'I'm a taxi driver', we don't enforce that. No one checks, unless you're at the airport, there's no way to enforce whether you have a license or not,” said Bill Keogh, BTV Airport Commissioner.
Keogh says it’s not only planes the airport must regulate, but taxis too.
“It just happened historically that the regulation of taxis started in the airport. It really doesn't make sense, in a way, to have it out at the airport. right now when so much of the traffic and so much of the concern is downtown,” said Burlington City Councilor Norm Blais.
The Burlington Airport Commission grants taxi drivers licenses and does background checks before giving a taxi the right to service Burlington International Airport, but that's as far as it goes.
Taxis downtown run without any oversight.
The Airport Commission recently submitted a letter to the Burlington City Council asking to be relieved of regulation responsibilities, outlining the system's "significant shortcomings" and "clumsy organization."
“Why? Because the public needs protection. When someone gets into a cab, they want to be confident that the person doesn't have a DUI record or a record that could threaten someone's safety,” said Keogh.
“I've actually had a couple experiences with certain cab companies where I had some questions about the driver being safe,” said Tisha Schull of Burlington.
And officials say, enforcing taxi licenses would not only promote safety for people like Tisha Schull, but also eliminate price gouging.
“I took a taxi Saturday night. I went from my house to the Flynn Theatre. I was charged 2 different rates,” explained Keogh.
Right now, licensed airport cab drivers charge a standard rate.
And according to Keogh, finding a way to enforce taxi laws city-wide could guarantee all taxi rides cost the same.
“We got to make sure that these rates are equitably administered and fairly administered,” said Keogh.
Mayor Miro Weinberger declined our request for an on-camera interview, but forwarded us his reply to the Airport Commission that says the city is working on "creating a working group" and hopes to have something established "within the next 3 months."
City Councilor Norm Blais says on option he'd like to see is a new taxi enforcement officer hired by the City.
Attached are lists of Airport-approved cab companies and drivers.