Airport adopts new policies for taxi drivers

Big changes are in store for the taxi companies that operate with the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. Wednesday, the airport's executive board voted to pass new ground transportation rules.

For months, executives with the airport have been developing a resolution that would have a major impact on how taxi drivers operate at the airport. Some of those changes include cheaper flat rates, requiring all taxis to accept credit cards, and carrying a larger insurance policy.

"A lot of people could lose their jobs over this, and we want to keep everybody working. We actually provide a superior service to the airport and we would, for once, like to be appreciated for that," said Leisa Leisy who is the President of the Gulf Coast Taxi Association.

Drivers with most of the taxi companies that work with the airport are outraged by the new standards. But Paige Coker, who is the vice president of the Gulf Coast Yellow Cab, is actually very happy with the new rules.

"We do fully support the airport, because they're trying to raise the standards so when people come to visit the area they have a good riding experience and they think pleasantly about the community from their first impression, which is normally in the backseat of a taxi," said Coker.

Airport Authority Executive Director Clay Williams thinks some companies feel like the policies are being adopted to weed them out. But he said it's simply raising the bar to improve customer service.

"We've heard complaints of exorbitant fares to the casino hotels or even to the hotels across the street. For example, we hear complaints from business travelers who travel all over the United States saying, 'Why can't we pay by credit card?'" said Williams.

Williams said the public comment period did encourage the board to reconsider certain parts of the resolution and some changes were made. If companies do not comply with the new policy by the time it goes into effect October 1, they will not be able to continue business with the airport.

Right now, more than 50 taxi companies do business with the airport, and only one of them has the $500,000 insurance policy the airport will now require.

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