BVI News

Taxi operators seek to offer services in other areas as COVID-19 crashes tourism livelihood

By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff

With a shutdown of the tourism sector because of the coronavirus pandemic, local taxi and livery operators are reeling from the impact.  

Local tour operator Julio ‘Sam’ Henry said the transportation-for-sector, which depends heavily on tourism, usually has what he described as a ‘slow season’. But with major disruptions from the COVID-19 crisis, he is predicting that the duration of this slow period might double this year.

“Normally, we would get three months, four months of the slow season. Now, we are probably going to end up with a six, seven months of slow season,” Henry said in an interview with BVI News on Tuesday, April 21

However, Henry and other like-minded operators have turned adversity into opportunity and are channelling their services into other areas.

“I have ads on Facebook advertising delivery and taxi service. I am [also] working with the government to do some of their deliveries,” he said.

Henry described this move as him simply thinking ‘outside the box’.

Opportunities to transport food and essential workers

Former President of the Taxi Association, Karl Scatliffe is another local taxi operator who has now joined the limited ranks of persons providing essential services as the territory remains under COVID-19 lockdown.  

He told BVI News that he has been transporting food and essential workers during this time.

“I am on the road every day because I took the opportunity to drive some of the securities and some essential workers,” Scatliffe stated. 

Taxi operators great for delivery, we know the areas

He said the pandemic is affecting everyone in the transportation-for-hire sector. He, however, noted that opportunities are available for drivers.

Scatliffe, who was an unsuccessful candidate in the February 2019 General Elections, said one such example would be for taxi operators to offer delivery services to supermarkets.

“We just about know where all the areas are. It’s just for us to know the people it is going to, and it could be a job for some people. Every taxi driver is not going to be able to do it, but it gives the opportunity to some who really wants to do something besides staying at home,” Scatliffe reasoned.

The political aspirant then called for talks to be had between the government and all local sectors to provide feedback and to brainstorm ideas on the way forward.

Happy to be home

Meanwhile, another local taxi driver, Romeo Cameron said despite missing the daily interactions with the tourists, he is relishing in his time away from the hustle.

“I am a law-abiding citizen, and honestly, I don’t have any problems with it (the lockdown). I am just following the instructions and staying at home. I’m not a superman. I prefer to be alive,” he stated.

Cameron is only engaged with the taxi service during the active tourist season and is also involved in the construction field. These days, he entertains himself by listening to music and spending time with family.

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  1. Chrome- says:

    Cameron can afford to do that because he done make so much money off of government contracts

    Like 14
    Dislike 6
  2. Worrying says:

    I am concerned because a large number of our taxi drivers are older overweight men who appear to take no exercise – these are the most vulnerable people to the virus and should be staying at home. It is different for the younger drivers, but the older ones should not let their desire to earn some cash endanger the rest of us.

    Like 35
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    • Get it correct says:

      Let me tell u something the taxi service on tortola backbone is the older wiser folks. They are strong. Do you know what the young taxi drivers do/ did to the tourism yes some tourists are cheap but since them young taxi drivers started at the cruise ship pier they have run down the prices giving away the service for free basically. Something that was usually $15 they brought it down to $8 just to take all the people for themselves. Let the young ones stay home they are arrogant and can indanger the public. You remember when boy basically damage a lady because he was to greedy and wanted to collect more people so he took the lady money then press gas and didn’t even check to see if she was off the bus properly. Another one like this happened and it was all with the young taxi drivers they are speeding, undercutting bandits leave them home keep the older wiser and still strong ones.

      Someone who grew up learning about the taxi industry

      Like 11
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      • Just saying .... says:

        Ok, let me know if I’m understand your position correctly?

        I fully get the part where you say youth are impetuous and aggressive, most are! But, are you implying that because their competition drove down the higher prices (that you older/wiser taxi men established) you are now upset you’re not monopolizing things anymore, and now unable to make more money for doing less?

        I cannot decide whether your position is genius or insane. Regardless, my understanding is there is only a very thin line between the two positions. 😉

        Oh the fun one has when bored out of their mind, and locked in their house for weeks on end.

        Like 14
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        • Tough debate says:

          Basically the person saying you saying let the younger ones so the job and keep the older ones home. So my question to both of you is do you not think everyone is susceptible to the virus? I think you guys should just leave things where they are.

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          • @toughdebate says:

            The risk of death from the virus increases if you are
            1 old
            2 overweight
            3 male
            4 not doing any exercise
            The risk of dying from the virus is less if you are
            1 young
            2 not overweight
            3 female
            4 fit
            Now do you understand? It’s not rocket science. Keep the old taxi drivers at home, and let the young ones do the work for less money.

            Like 5
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      • @get it correct says:

        I believe in competition. We have the most expensive taxis in the world – if the youngsters can offer taxi services at a lower price then I will use the youngsters.
        However, the point made by @worrying is that the old, fat, lazy, male taxi drivers are at a greater risk of dying if they catch the virus. Let the youngsters do the work.

        Like 7
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        • Exaggerated says:

          How can you say we have the most expensive taxis in the world? You are exaggerating the prices here seem fair and cheaper when it comes to transportation vs many places in the world Europe taxis are expensive the US taxis are very expensive if your not taking uber or lyft they are very expensive. Just speaking from my experience.

          Don’t kill me I’m just speaking from personal experience sorry if I offended anyone with this post.

    • Local girl says:

      @ worrying, again being gluttonous and greedy, when they not sitting all day playing dominoes they driving, get home late and straight to bed, some may not even wash their a$$, they grabbing whatever is being sold on the street.
      Both men and women here on this island don’t take pride in themselves, they are not even health conscious with or without Diabetes and Hypertension.

      Like 5
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  3. Interesting says:

    The same lazy taxi drivers that discriminate against local commuters in favor or tourists. They prefer to sit around for hours for one trip of tourists, rather than facilitate locals wanting to get from point A to B. Why is it only East End to Road Town with a reliable and consistent travel system. Funny. Why can none of them think and act outside the box and operate West End to Road Town or Cane Garden Bay. Welcome back to the domestic market.

    Like 35
  4. Stay Safe says:

    Stay home, stay safe and use the time to bond with ayo family. Money isn’t everything!

    Like 23
  5. I c den says:

    The locals wouldn’t use them now because they don’t study locals during tourist season.even if you as a local $2 short of the price they don’t want to take you, they rather not make $28 because they want $30.

    Like 25
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  6. Anonymous says:

    one of us.

  7. no please says:

    No to taxi drivers delivering food. They lazy can’t even lift luggage how are they going to deliver groceries. Plus they greedy and overcharge. And they won’t go up steep driveways or rough roads. Raised the rates when gas went up years ago and never brought them back down in line with the economy. You see how slow them move too. No thanks. Let them use proper delivery vans with strong people who aren’t trying to kill us with super high rates.

    Like 22
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  8. one of us. says:

    good read bvinews,even though Sam is pushing his own ideas,and the illustrated picture features 2 deceased taxi drivers,hope this is not an indication of what’s to come.

  9. Guest says:

    The Pier Park, the Airport, the Ferry Terminals and the beaches are all closed. Trust me, I swear that those are the only places that most taxi operators know anyhow.

    Like 15
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  10. Karma is sweet says:

    Why are you taxi drivers B****ing for, when the tourist was in port, you same taxi drivers who is at the public’s mercy would Give the regular public your rumps to kiss. My advice to you taxi drivers, go find another job skill. It is going to be a very long time before the cruise ships head this way again. Did you not see the cruise ships is getting sued left and right? Lot’s of people agree that once this virus is over, they are going to limit traveling.

    Like 17
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  11. Tola says:

    Noo we ain’t want ayo you all to greedy and when season up ayo forget locals.

    Like 12
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  12. Online Now says:

    These are no doubt the ones charging $60 for delivery like it’s a taxi fayre. Most civic minded people would do this for a minimum fee.

    Like 14
  13. Right way says:

    Will the Right Way taxis be delivering locals groceries NOW? Amazing, refuse to carry us and now begging to carry our groceries???

    Like 17
  14. No income in sight says:

    Everyone working in the tourism industry are in the same boat. 6 months slow season? You may be 6-12 months off reality.

  15. Retired says:

    The time has come for taxi drivers to switch to another line of work. Those drivers that are mechanicaly inclined should start working in the vehicle repair business. Some of them could actually get hired as bus drivers for the new VIP bus service on Tortola. According to the VIP that new service should be up and running any day now – right!

    Like 8
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  16. I guess says:

    They are so damn lazy, when the get to your house with the delivery you have to take it out the taxi yourself plus they expect you to tip them.I am not dealing with no taxi delivering my groceries because when the tourist is in port, the taxi drivers don’t have time with the locals.

    Like 12
  17. Not so fast says:

    I am ot against them earning a living. But. These are the same taximen when hou call all you hear is “chip”

  18. fahie says:

    I put my name here for many reasons,I’m a Taxi driver also when you are calling down one you are calling down all.The same Taxi drivers you are here calling down have did some of you all many favors.To show you how ungrateful some of you people are.I drove your kids to and from school from 8th grade to graduation many of you all never paid a dime I took off twenty dollars of my fare and some did not even pay a dime,I have made enemies because some of you all are just worthless.only when it benifets some you Taxi do a good job.

    • Online Now says:

      You’re sense of “entitlement” is unbelievable. I see you calling down what you consider to be “Johnny come latelies”.

      We do not need over inflated prices at this moment when we are battling to get fed. We need good, FAIR, delivery services.

    • Local girl says:

      Fahie, go sit down in a corner, the only Taxi driver I know that most repeat guests asked for is a guy named Frank, he is originally from St.Kitts and worked also as a Bartender, the rest of you are fat greedy, old, lazy, dribbley and smell sour, don’t talk about ah yo guts how they huge, …mom gut wasn’t as big as some of you, the shirts so short and snug, classless.
      The older folks on this island who push greedy nasty agenda to our youths, never get enough, the greed is past down especially when the older folks especially the men go around telling outsiders that planes brought the here and their cows born here, sad and pathetic.

  19. So cool says:

    The Jamacians who did the J-1 Summer work and travel programme in the US is also getting a stimulus check of $1,200 US dollars. Some said they already receive the money and was very grateful. $1,200 US dollars is a lot of money in Jamaica.

  20. don't forget says:

    He going to pee in your yard or pull over the side on the way and not wash he hands. LOL see them doing that all the time in front of tourist too

  21. Lynn Kilby says:

    Not sure whether this is ok to post on here Please delete if not – ON THE OFF CHANCE, looking for an old UK school friend, Jacqueline nee Phillip, married to Carl who used to be a taxi driver on BVI in St Thomas, I believe. She had a lot of brothers and sisters and lived in Luton, Bedfordshire, UK in around 1964-68 She would be about 72 now.

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