About 50 taxicab drivers gathered outside county hall Monday morning to protest several pending changes that would impact their industry—specifically, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez's new Ambassador Cabs program.
The program basically creates a higher set of standards for taxis and drivers, or “ambassadors,” who serve Miami International Airport and PortMiami. One of those changes would require cabs to take credit cards.
The general argument for the changes goes like this: tourism is a huge part of the local economy, and like it or not, taxi drivers are often among the first people to interact with travelers. County officials want to make sure that first impression is a good one.
But some cabbies argue that drivers will be forced to bear the costly burden of these improvements instead of the cab companies.
Monday’s protest was organized by the New Vision Taxi Drivers Association. Its director, Raymond Francois, isn't happy with the current proposals.
“I don’t see any provisions that say if those taxi companies charge the drivers, the driver can go to the taxi bureau to file a complaint,” said Francois.
The credit card requirement is one of several proposals being considered by the Miami-Dade County Commission.
The Ambassador program also requires cabs to have GPS, Sunpass Transponders and security cameras. Commissioner Juan Zapata has proposed an alternative credit card requirement.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Audrey Edmonson is proposing changes to the way luxury sedan and limo drivers are regulated which could also have a big impact on the taxi industry.