BVI News

Livery companies outraged, accuses Tourist Board of barring visitors from their businesses

Law enforcers were called to the Road Town Ferry Dock on Friday to police livery company operators and visitors. (BVI News photo)

Operators of private livery companies are at loggerheads with Tourist Board officials whom they are accusing of actively steering visitors away from their businesses.

When visitors disembark an arriving ferry, they are typically taxied to their respective hotels by regular taxi operators OR by livery companies hired by these hotels/other establishments.

However, livery companies are claiming that visitors who have pre-arranged to travel with them are literally forced to travel by regular taxi.

The companies claim this happens whenever visitors don’t show documentation to the Tourist Board’s taxi dispatcher to prove they have prepaid to use a livery company service.

Livery operators incensed, uproar at ferry dock

This did not sit well with livery operators who caused an uproar at the Road Town Ferry Terminal on Friday when police were called to the location; seemingly to physically prevent visitors from boarding the livery company vehicles hired by their hotels.

“We are told that if our guests come out and they say they don’t want to go on a regular taxi, they are saying that they have to go with the regular taxi; they cannot come with us. Since when? Isn’t it the client’s choice to choose their provider if they feel safe? Most of our clients are repeat customers so they know us already,” said Andre Jackson, a joint-operator of the local livery company, Mackenzie & Sons Ltd.

“Our clients are pre-booked and some of them are prepaid. That’s why we know they are coming. We interact with our clients and they tell us they are coming. That’s why we are here standing up with our signs 360 days a year. So what are we supposed to do now? Jackson questioned.

Business suffering

Jackson and his business partner Renee Turnbull said their company is now haemorrhaging money, especially since they are still required to consistently pay fees as business owners and members of the transportation-for-hire industry.

“My company is incorporated. I am not working as a single proprietor. I have overheads. My clients are booked to come with Sunsail (a boat rental company). When they (tourist) come off the ferry and say they are going to Sunsail, they (the Tourist Board’s dispatcher as well as police) stop them and ask them if they (the visitors) have prepaid for a livery company service. If they say no, they want to give the transportation job to them (regular taxi operators),” Turnbull told BVI News.

She added: “That’s none of their concern if the tourists are pre-booked or prepaid. If they have stated where they want to go. Your concern is if they know where they are going. If they don’t know where they are going then your concern is to direct them where they are to go. But if they know where they are going, why are you further questioning them,” Turnbull argued.

Livery companies disadvantaged

Another livery company owner Roy Sebastian said the Tourist Board dispatcher, with the assistance of police, blocked more than a dozen pre-booked visitors from boarding his vehicle on Friday alone.

“They took 16 of my Marinemax guests and sent them to Marinemax on taxis. I can’t show the guests their names or ask them no questions which I think is unfair to me. Something has to be done about this. The government will have to do something,” Sebastian said.

When BVI News contacted the Director of the BVI Tourist Board Sharon Flax-Brutus for comment, she said she could not respond to our news centre’s questions on the matter until she is officially briefed by her staff and the Taxi & Livery Commission on what transpired.

She, however, put on record that: “The integrity of our guest experience must be protected at all costs.”

What the law says

According to Section 45 of the 2009 Road Traffic Regulations, “a person who prior to his or her arrival at a Port in the territory has pre-arranged for a taxi or livery service shall submit to the Port Dispatcher, his or her voucher confirming the pre-arranged service.”

The law further says the name on the voucher submitted “shall be matched with the taxi or livery service provider’s checklist before the service provider is permitted to transport the person.”

In the meantime, Section 21 of the 1993 Road Traffic Regulations says: “Where a Taxi Despatcher Service authorized by the minister is provided, taxi drivers shall comply with the instructions of the Despatcher”.

Editor’s Note:

The preceding is the first of a two-part story

Copyright 2020 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

62 Comments

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  1. The Reaper says:

    Danmmmmm!!!!! This what My Country has become

    Like 22
    • The reaper says:

      Sorry dude, but your Country is Paradise lost in translation. Seems like the ones in charge is beyond the failing grade.If you take a national survey of the BVI, it will get a F-.

      Like 22
      Dislike 6
      • Rip Off Taxi Merchants says:

        The taxis are just another example of how consumer protection in the BVI is swept aside in favour of protecting local businesses and making everybody have to put up with high costs and poor service. Th e livery companies go some way to helping people from being ripped off, but what we really need is Uber!
        Does the draft consumer protection bill introduce competition? – no it does not! Wasted opportunity.
        We need competition for taxis, food stuffs, electronics, white goods and everything else. Let’s stop this silly protectionist approach – we can compete if we work hard.

        Like 9
        Dislike 2
    • Anonymous says:

      That’s nice. The first people a tourist comes in contact with is a police officer questioning them. That will enlarge the tourist population and bring people back. You couldn’t make this s**t up if your tried.

      Like 29
    • Hotelier says:

      Taxis are one of the worst aspects of our tourists offering. Dirty , old, overcrowded, overpriced, unsuitable vehicles are the norm. Rip off prices are common.

      There are exceptions of course.

      Countries where tourism matters have highly regulated taxis with meters.

      That’s what we need.

      And a luxury livery service has a place.

      Like 15
  2. The Reaper says:

    These police are Expatriates. They need to start let them pay for they work permit Enough is Enough Never take care of there county but want to take of bvi. Big Joke. How u Fooling. Over 200 plus officers ?‍♀️ and talking BS. They bring there Family in easy All kind of benefit Hmmmmmmmmm What about Born Here. BVI Born here. They don’t care but they have a lot too say about BVI people. Shame on All The Government that represents BVI. Sadddddddd

    Like 10
    Dislike 54
    • @The Reaper says:

      Go learn to spell.

      Like 23
      Dislike 4
    • Huh says:

      What the h**l are you talking about? This has nothing to do with the article. Simmer down & drink some tea??‍♀️

    • Lodger says:

      So do you or your relatives have someone who wants to be a police officer? If so why havent they applied?

      Like 10
    • @reaper says:

      Born here my foot we the so call born her we complain about every thing and every aspect wen it comes to bvi jobs and system but look at it we sit on our asses and complain yet we our selves dnr make an effort u complain about jobs yet we wont apply for the jobs we wont stay in school and do the necessary to get the jobs we feel that because we are so call born here we are entiled but hell no we like it to easy its about time we get up and put our selves out there like we shud if born here want the job den do what needs to be done put urself in place to get d job caz wen we dnt do it expats will cum and do it for us and we only hav our selves to blame

      Like 8
      Dislike 1
    • Proud BVI Native says:

      Shut the h**l up. The locals don’t want the job . Hardly any locals apply. Be glad that someone is willing to put their life on the line to protect thiS country when it’s own citizens don’t want to.?

      Like 6
      Dislike 3
    • Sam says:

      my very first experience of BVI was a rude ,expensive stinking taxi driver and ever return trip the same .

  3. one word says:

    GREED

  4. Hah says:

    According to Section 45 of the 2009 Road Traffic Regulations, “a person who prior to his or her arrival at a Port in the territory has pre-arranged for a taxi or livery service shall submit to the Port Dispatcher, his or her voucher confirming the pre-arranged service.” The law seems clear to me. Perhaps the livery companies need to ensure that their customers have their vouchers ready when they arrive. It’s also obvious that the tourist dont care enough who they go with as they can’t be forced to leave with someone against their will.

    Like 15
    Dislike 3
    • @Hah says:

      so you telling me if a hotel call my taxi service and tell me they have 6 guest coming in at 22/05/19 can i do the job and i say yes and gave me the name of the group.Now tell me who have rights to the job tomorrow when they come? A.Me B.Section 45 of the 2009 Road Traffic Regulations

      Like 3
      Dislike 4
      • Hah says:

        This is one of the big issues in the BVI. Somebody always want the law to be bent in their favor instead of actually following the laws. Based on the law the passengers must present their voucher proving that they have prearranged. The livery services need to find a solution to their problem. You can either work on changing the law or what I would suggest is that the livery services and Hotel etc. submit electronic vouchers to their clients that they can keep on their phones and show to the Port dispatcher. You cant tell the people on the ferry or movie theater that you bought a ticket. You have to show that ticket or you wont be admitted. The option is not to overlook the law to allow the livery service to get their way.

        Like 16
        Dislike 2
        • ok says:

          some of the same taxi men come for special guest for hotels too and the guest don’t show anything to dispatcher and taxi men sometime don’t have a name only the amount of guest

          Like 1
          Dislike 2
          • Anonymous says:

            @Ok, the taxi men are allowed to pick up any passengers that need a ride. They dont need vouchers. The other people don’t have a taxi licence so they cant just pick up passengers randomly or they could be considered to breaking the law.

            Like 5
            Dislike 1
          • @Anonymous says:

            so what about the tourist going VG from airport and going on a specific ferry why they don’t have to show vouchers

          • again says:

            as a passenger i have a right to choose who i want to be transported by u can’t tell who i have to go with

        • @Hah says:

          I agree! Just like the operator is upset, the Taxi men would have a valid argument as well. What if the tour guys are ‘poaching’ people away from the regular taxis under the guise of being aligned with the respective yacht companies etc. If the law says proof has to be shown then they should find a way to ensure that their guests have the said proof upon arrival. Not sure how hard it can be.

          • no says:

            if they come with the guests name what more proof you need they got the names from the yacht companies they work for.

          • Hotelier says:

            You think it’s a good idea to for e tourists to carry more pieces of paper. Do you really think that would improve our offering.

            Like 5
            Dislike 3
          • hmmm says:

            Also, shuttles and Livery are not suppose to collect guests since they are prepaid (but they are still collecting money from guests). Taxi are allowed to charge and collect guests.

          • yachter says:

            If we supply the livery the sign to hold to greet our guests that is our “voucher” that they should greet our guests.

    • Hmm says:

      Trust me they do care especially repeaters. Some will show their frustration on the dock or when they reach to the hotel that’s when they’ll file their complaints

      Like 4
      Dislike 1
  5. me says:

    Cruise ship season slow now this is the behavior of the taxi men every year.Moorings,Sunsail and Sebastian’s Transport is the ones targeted because of the volume of passengers.The taxi man them to greedy when the locals comes out and want a taxi they got hell to get one, one of the reasons is because they could over charge the tourist not the locals.The last time i check $20 from a local is the same as $20 from a tourist.

    Like 10
    Dislike 1
    • hold on says:

      you need to understand whats going before you run around talking what you dont know. this problem been going on for years , but Mark was collecting on the side why he never up held the law , and so livery companies grew there business illegally by stealing from the taxi drivers,

      Like 2
      Dislike 1
  6. Reality says:

    This is just stupid politics and tourists will be unimpressed by this and not return – grow up BVI and stop being so childish and selfish – taxi drivers cease your bullying tactics and over charging….

    Like 26
    Dislike 1
  7. LOL says:

    What a travesty. Everything here has to be filled with drama, every f–king thing! Sick!

    Like 19
  8. @Jackson says:

    You have no shame S—- on Mackenzie

    Like 1
    Dislike 1
  9. What!!!! says:

    What a fantastic welcome for our visitors. After traveling god knows how long to get here met by squabbling taxi / livery drivers.

    Like 32
    • Tourist says:

      Thank you for the comment. The first impression is like WOW, does everyone on the Island act this way. This is my 5th time vacationing in Tortola and will continue to do so. I have met some really wonderful locals.

      Like 8
      Dislike 1
  10. Me says:

    Always say.taxi operators should be first impression of agood time in natures little secret but man am I wrong.Come to VG the most unprofessional no manners/respct for fellow taximan dress in all kind of drags vehicles look like taking animals to market dropping fares on each other it’s shameful

    Like 10
  11. Tourist says:

    Thank you for the comment. The first impression is like WOW, does everyone on the Island act this way. This is my 5th time vacationing in Tortola and will continue to do so. I have met some really wonderful locals.

    Like 4
    Dislike 1
  12. tell me says:

    why we didn’t have this problem when it had ship almost everyday.When ship in town you can get a taxi every taxi man gone ship but now it slow them want to take the people work.These transportation companies are legit company and have taxi drivers workers working with them so its like you taking the work from one taxi driver and giving a next i see problems there.Don’t play with a next man bread

    • well sah says:

      you people need to know the law , livery pick up guest that are prepaid, to be transported to and from the ports of entry , not to be taken out for dinner , taken to the grociery store or even picked up form hotels –

      • driver says:

        Can hire any driver to go any where. We call these chauffeurs, full time perhaps butlers. Why would a livery be any different in where the contractor can arrange drop off, waited on and shuttled by the shuttle operator. Not many taxi’s would be willing to offer the time without a bundle in return. From my experience in traveling around taxis in STT except airport to ferry dock are every bit as bad.

  13. I Swear says:

    What kind of onerous nonsense! proof of payment…… s**t is absolutely ridiculous!

    Like 5
    Dislike 1
  14. Truth says:

    I think the issue here is where the line is drawn between the transportation types. I stand to be corrected but I think having a full fledged taxi license allows you to pick up any passenger needing a ride from point A to B, where as the ‘Tour’, ‘Shuttle’ and ‘Livery’ licensed persons are supposed to conduct their pickups in a specific manner. The point of contention may be that taxis are of the opinion that the otherwise licensed entities are dipping into their sauce and are not standing for it. At the end of the day if we are dealing with major companies like Sunsail, Marine Max etc., what is so hard for these entities to send transport confirmations to guests so even flashing their phones with the information would suffice.

    • true says:

      dipping into their sauce? Marine Max guest don’t belong to them.The guest are in a contract with the sailing company and the transportation company represents the sailing company

    • local says:

      You are correct. A taxi is different from a livery or a shuttle.. In order to operate a Taxi, one must have a taxi license… Anyone can drive a shuttle or Livery once they have a valid drivers license…The problem is that shuttles are not suppose to charge guests . when you go to the USA and you get in a shuttle, the driver takes you to the hotel at no cost to you. If you decide you want to go the Mall, dinner or to the beach , you have to take a taxi…

    • Vouched says:

      Should thing providing the “printed vouched” sign that they represent the company and have provided the necessary insurance certificate with million dollar coverage needed to represent our company and carry guests should be adequate to suffice. Once your taxi drivers are all required to carry these coverages then we’ll talk

  15. Ha Ha says:

    Taxi drivers gone wild/wilding out.

  16. Told you all says:

    UBER or LYFT is the way to go. Time for the BVI to upgrade to a more modern way of travel by Taxis.Each Hotel who is picking up visitors from the Ferry or Airport should have the driver holding up a sign with the guest name So the guest would know what Taxi the guest should board.

    Like 11
  17. baggashark says:

    when ever something starts wrong in this country and you try to fix it there is a big problem.According to Section 45 of the 2009 Road Traffic Regulations, “a person who prior to his or her arrival at a Port in the territory has pre-arranged for a taxi or livery service shall submit to the Port Dispatcher, his or her voucher confirming the pre-arranged service.” The government makes the the law.when you don’t have enforcement that is a big problem.the voucher system was misused by the same livery,they were doubble charging the company,and a lot of these guest that have vouchers when they arrived to the ports the livery shuttle drivers have them there sitting and waiting.many times I was asked by the same guest for my taxi service to get to their destination.for many years the staff from the tourist board stood there and did nothing for the taxi industry.a lot of damaged that was done could have been fixed because of intervention.what the government needs to do is stop all livery from the ports and airports.when the guest get to their base they can shuttle them where they want to go.

    Like 2
    Dislike 1
    • what is this says:

      taxis men along must eat around here bull you talking.taxis me go buy the ship make $200 ,$300 ,$400 ,500 up to $900 a day and all is his transportation company make $400, $500, $600 and got 4-5 persons to pay what how much u think the boss carrying home for the day.ship slow now so problems start now

  18. Online Now says:

    If you are a tourist and have booked through Sunsail and see someone holding a Sunsail sign, why would you head to a taxi. You are being collected by your vacation company. The only person you should have to prove that to is the Livery.

    It’s another way of making tourists feel unwelcome and uncomfortable.

    Like 9
    Dislike 2
  19. Oh boy says:

    De Reaper and our supporters please for heaven sake. If you are a BVislander, who the h**l is stopping you from joining the Police Force. But anyway is this Topic about the Police? This BVIs really hate the Police and LOVE CRIMINALS.

    Like 2
    Dislike 2
  20. Anonymous says:

    Them livery drivers aint suppose to be picking no one up i feel they should be droping off the ppl them wgen thier leaving the companies cause their so tricky those livery drivers they get pay and still be collecting as taxi drivers its un fair to thw taxi men them cause these ppl come and somtimes dont ask for the company to get them so they take taxi. Im not sidind the taxi men them cause some of them a horrible they trick the passengers with prices thays why they need to get dispatches at all ports like the airport has. I lile how they give u a reciept with the location name of driver and etc thats how things should be

  21. Crappy says:

    We are chasing our tourists away. Not sufficient that they arrive at sub-standard facilities to disheveled surroundings but in other places they are used to a swift and welcoming first impression and here they get this unseemly rubbish between taxi men (call each what you want). Then they get ripped off for the pleasure and that’s not to mention the ride in often unsafe vehicles with drivers who never learned to drive.

    We need to sort out what we want to be as a destination or other places will eat all of our dinner. And good for them.

    Make it friendly, easy, app based with mobile or card payment. This probably involves the government attracting better retail banks or bank equivalents but that’s difficult with a small population and one that runs so many bad debts.

    Our taxi or livery people all need lessons in driving and hospitality. Our leaders and tourist bird need to notice what is going on around them on their many trips to places that compete for tourism, finance and other business.

  22. Ugh says:

    I am so embarrassed. Look how we present ourselves to our visitors.

  23. CW says:

    I am crying with laughter at all these comments. How more uneducated and foolish can you make an entire group of people appear? SMH the taxi service in all Tortola is a joke. The entry into the territory for visitors, and locals alike is AWFUL. tourism board getting blamed but if it wasn’t for their AMAZING EFFORTS you lot wouldn’t have ANY visitors at all- they’d all go to other islands that are clean, friendly, and basically the OPPOSITE OF BVI RIGHT NOW. You lot of internet expert STRUPES should spend this energy ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING POSITIVE. but that requires you get along AND try hard, something BVI been failing with for 20 years. Blame everything and everyone but YOURSELVES and wonder why it gets worse and not better. Clearly you do not understand how the world you live in actually works lol/smh SAD

  24. Jane says:

    Taxi-drivers have too much power in this Territory. They work when they want, take passengers only when it suits them (and if they dont feel like taking you the whole way then they’ll dump you at the bottom of this hill). try getting a taxi late at night, or on a day where a cruise ship is in. Government needs to ensure that they provide a community service too, not just line their own pockets. A taxi license should be seen as a valuable privilege not an entitlement. All professional drivers should have to undertake a comprehensive annual medical and sight test, the vehicles should be required to pass a proper inspection and they should sign up to disciplinary code of conduct and face censure if they do not abide by it. Too much tail wagging the dog going on right now, No wonder people would rather take a shuttle.

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