PHOENIX – The operators of about 60 taxicabs staged a peaceful protest by abandoning their vehicles on Washington Street in front of Phoenix City Hall. The cabs are owned by Allstate Cab Co., AAA Cab and Discount Cab, but the dispute is between the drivers and the city, said Al Moya, Allstate's operations manager in the company's Tucson office. The drivers lease their vehicles from the companies, and the companies are not involved in the dispute, Moya said.
The drivers abandoned their vehicles on Washington about mid-morning, blocking all five westbound lanes. Police rerouted traffic onto southbound First Ave. or northbound Central Ave. while tow trucks hauled the cabs away.
In August 2004, the cab companies signed a five-year contract with Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport to provide a total of 195 cabs.
According to a fact sheet distributed by Phoenix Sky Harbor:
· The cab drivers feel the daily lease rates, now at a maximum of $85 per day, are too high.
· The drivers are protesting competition from 12 on-demand limousine companies that operate 27 limousines on monthly agreements with the airport.
· Drivers believe the $1.82 per gallon cost of compressed natural gas fuel is too high. Unleaded gasoline is priced at about $2.17 per gallon.
· The drivers also are complaining that when airport-contracted cabs are unavailable, non-contracted cab companies are contacted to provide services.
In response to the drivers' complaints, the airport management has hired a consultant to study taxi and limousine services. Airport officials also are working with the contracted companies to help guarantee there are enough contracted cabs at the airport.