SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


A definite need for more taxi permits in Ketchikan
By Conan Steele


March 29, 2010

The Ketchikan City Council recently rejected a proposal to increase the number of taxi permits based upon the argument that there is no need for more taxis. I have driven taxi in Ketchikan for a number of years and I know this to just not be true. During peak periods in Ketchikan (usually during the cruise ship season), it can be nearly impossible to get a taxi in a timely manner, if you can get one at all. This is even true in a bad year.

There is also the notion that the taxi pie in Ketchikan is only so big. During the summer months in particular, all three taxi companies in town have periods when they are completely saturated with calls for hours on end. Visitors wanting to go places (and paying big money to do so) are often left unserved because the taxi companies simply don t have the capacity to deal with them. While it s true that some of them will get on a tour bus instead, many of them want the convenience and privacy that a hired car provides. When they can t get this they often just wander around or get back on the ship. Their money keeps on going to the next port. That s tragic, given the state of our economy. These lost sales also translate to lost sales tax revenue for the city and borough.

An increase in taxis would also result in greater efficiency of service, which would shorten wait times. I don t see why 15-20 minutes is considered an acceptable amount of time to expect to wait for a ride. If you re a bartender and you need to get somebody out the door, that can be a long time. The same goes for people who really need to get back to their ships or to work ,etc. I have driven many days when I would have made more money, had we been more efficient.

And then there s the idea that taxis don t belong in the visitor industry. Go to just about any tourist destination, get off your boat or plane, and what s one or several of the first things that you are likely to see? Taxicabs, that s what. In the real world taxis are extensively involved in the visitor industry, from a simple ride to the airport on up to multi-day tours. With all of our visitors, why shouldn t it work the same way here?

There is definitely a need for more taxis in Ketchikan. It should be up to the market to decide how many, not ordinances that are cumbersome to free enterprise. Don t we live in America? The cab company owners in this town should have the right to expand or contract their fleets as market conditions dictate.

Conan Steele
Ketchikan, AK

About: "I have worked for several years in the Ketchikan taxi industry and have a thorough understanding of how a taxi business works effectively here and how it doesn't."

Received March 29, 2009 - Published March 29, 2010



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