The plan for Five 6’s taxi company to switch two of its private-hire passenger van licenses for two regular cab licenses was nixed by Key West City Commissioners at its most recent meeting. Only Mayor Craig Cates and Commissioner Jimmy Weekley supported the measure.
“There are other solutions than taking CVH licenses that are worthless and converting them to taxi licenses that will generate over $100,000 a year in gross income,” said Key Lime Taxi owner Thane Gilliam, calling it unfair because of the limited number of taxi licenses in Key West. “There are other possible ways to solve the problem.”
A CVH license is a Contract Vehicle for Hire, which is a passenger van that usually requires 24-hour notice before an assigned pick up, according to Gilliam. This sort of vehicle is often used by those confined to a wheel chair. Five 6’s sought to convert this type of license to Private Vehicle for Hire licenses by Five 6’s, or a regular cab license. Glenn Stevenson, owner of Five 6’s, said the handicap vehicles are needed in the community and his proposal has nothing to do with profit.
“We bring people to dialysis three days a week. The ADA vehicle we bought on our dime for over $50,000 to help the community,” said Stevenson.
He said the need is so substantial he receives calls from all over the Keys, adding that the ADA vehicle drivers are not your traditional taxi operators.
“I have had calls from Cheeca Lodge in Islamorada because there are no ADA vehicles in the Keys,” said Stevenson. “These are employed drivers not like regular cabs who load and go on commission … we have to make sure wheelchairs are clamped down properly so passengers don’t go catapulting out the vehicle. It takes a lot more time. They are not receiving the profits of regular cabs.”
The issue may be put to rest for now but is not out of the conversation. Stevenson and Gilliam agree on the need for more handicap accessible vehicles on the road and said they would work on a solution for the industry and community.
The city has 56 licenses it would label as “Taxi Licenses” and there has not been a new license granted for 25 years according to the city of Key West’s Licensing Division. Five 6’s has 27, Maxi Taxi has 18, and Friendly Cab Company has 11 of them.