This question came from one of our guests at the B&B. Are Taxi Fares Monitored or Regulated on Amelia Island?
Besides B&B owners, front desk hotel staff and waiting staff in restaurants, visitors to Amelia Island don’t have a lot of interaction with the local scene, except for those who elect to fly into Jax Airport, take a cab to their destination resort and use local taxis to get around o restaurants and attractions. Our little Inn at the beach seems to attract quite a few of these visitors. They spend most of their days on the beach and prefer grabbing a taxi to take them to the dining and nightlife opportunities.
This story is about a couple from Maine that recently stayed with us for a 5 night vacation and elected to use local taxi transportation for their outings. Since we are the one’s who get to recommend which service to use, we always have Nico as our first choice. Simply because Nico is a nice gentleman with interesting stories and fair rates.
One night last week our guests had Nico take them to Downtown. The charge was $8 for two people. Fair since we’re talking less than 2 miles and no luggage involvement. On their return Nico was not available however so they called another company which promptly arrived and returned them to the Inn at a rate of $15!! Same route, same distance, just a couple of hours later. Now I know that many taxi services charge more the later it gets into the evening, but this was literally only a couple of hours later in the early evening hours. And what’s more, the guests paid with a $20 bill and never got a penny back.
No wonder they felt “being taken advantage of”.
Everyone who knows me, also knows that I’m the last person in the world who supports government type regulations, where private initiative and social control should do the trick. Having lived in the Caribbean Islands for many years, I learned early on that the first and last contact visitors had with locals, was through taxi drivers. Whether cruise ship arrival or airport arrival, the first local contact was the taxi driver. They are considered tourism ambassadors and as such went through a training about culture, history, attractions, duty free shopping and etiquette, in order to make guests feel comfortable. And rates were posted everywhere. If someone gauged, the visitor can contact the Taxi Association and action will be taken.
Being a licensed taxi driver in many of the islands requires the purchase of a Taxi Medaillon. They don’t come cheap and many drivers see them as a retirement investment. Being a taxi driver is considered a career in the islands!
Contrary to here in the States, where it is often an “in-between jobs or supporting your way through college” occupation. Something to do until something better comes along. And that has always bothered me if your local economy depends largely on tourism dollars.
So without (at this point) revealing the taxi company that grossly overcharged my guests, I would be very interested in finding out if there is any type of regulatory rate behavior among taxi companies on Amelia Island. If not, it may be time for tourism stakeholders to think about some guidelines.
It may be different for our Oceanfront B&B at the Beach, but close to half of our guests fly into Jax Airport and a substantial number takes a taxi or concierge service to the Inn, rather than renting a car.