Exclusive airport contract has cab companies upset

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It's the time of year that can make or break businesses around Augusta...Masters Week.

But an exclusive contract for one cab company at Augusta's airport has taxi companies crying foul.

Commissioners are spinning their wheels about the legalities.

Taxicab companies here say they just want a piece of the pie.

Next week a lot of people will be coming through the Augusta airport...and it's a big week for Augusta taxi companies.

Today, Commissioner Marion Williams along with about a dozen taxi companies spoke out, saying it's unfair that for the past 20 years, Radio Cab Company has monopolized business at the airport by holding a self-renewing contract that allows them to be the sole company to pick up passengers from the airport.

Several commissioners agree it's not fair, and the taxi companies say if you look at other cities, any licensed company is allowed to work from an airport...especially during major events like the Masters.

That's why Commissioner Williams motioned to immediately halt Radio Cab's exclusive contract and allow all cab companies to do business at the airport.

Several commissioners agreed, but city attorney Steve Shepherd told commissioners that if this is done, a lawsuit may be on the way.

Williams and some taxi companies say it's a price worth paying to correct the problem.

"I've been to the Augusta airport every year during Masters, and it's embarrassing when you have clients in your car and officials at the airport treat you like you're less than dirt because you are an independent cab," says Cynthia Jackson of Cindy's Cab Company.

"The city is sitting in there talking about opening themselves up for a lawsuit with Radio Cab. They may be opening themselves up for a lawsuit from us. It's been 20 years, man, 20 years that this has been going on," says Mark Lavigne of USA Cab Company.

After much discussion, the commission decided in a 6-3 vote to allow the Aviation Commission to make a decision at their meeting tomorrow.

Many of the companies say if something isn't done next week, they will bring a lawsuit to the city.

Radio Cab's current contract is on a 60-day renewal, so the city says it's too late to do anything for this year's tournament.