Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Proposed changes to BTV airport cabs are in progress

Blue signs hang over a two-lane road for arrivals, departures and the parking garage at the airport.
Sophie Stephens
Vermont Public
The entrance for cars and cabs at the Patrick Leahy Burlington International Airport.

As Burlington International Airport braces for the holidays, officials with the city’s vehicle-for-hire licensing board want to see more action on a slew of proposals to improve peoples’ experience going to and from the airport.

This fall members of that board asked airport commissioners to bump up the number of taxicabs allowed to queue outside the airport from 60 to 90 — a recommendation meant to improve ride availability, especially at night. Airport commissioners approved that idea unanimously in October.

To operate a cab, a driver must have a specific license from the city that costs $100. Drivers need a second, $500 permit to queue up outside the airport. Licenses and permits are issued annually on the first day of August and must be renewed each year, at the responsibility of the holder.

Airport commissioners in October discussed how some drivers had been provided a queue permit but weren’t actually using it. Meanwhile, more than 50 drivers were on the waitlist. Officials proposed creating a digital system to collect data on how often a permit-holder comes to the airport. Cab drivers not using their queue permit would then have it revoked.

The licensing board, led by chair Paul Hines, has also brought four other proposals to the Burlington City Council in a move to improve the overall airport experience and availability of rides.

“A lot of travelers’ first experience with Burlington is the airport taxicab system. It is important for us to make sure that is a positive experience,” said Hines during the October meeting.

Hines told the airport board that he has shown up at the airport after midnight on numerous occasions looking for a taxicab and been unable to get one. During late-night hours, drivers for rideshare apps like Lyft and Uber can also be unavailable and unreliable.

An increased rate for cab drivers would be an incentive for driving during late-night hours, said Hines in an interview. That’s one of the proposals his board has made to city councilors.

“Riders often feel like they’re not being charged the right amount, and drivers are concerned that our rates have not been increased for a very long time,” said Hines in the interview.

Hines said the licensing board also wants to see a new digital metering system for cabs that more accurately tracks mileage.

Licensing officials have also been looking at improving driver education for taxi operators.

Cab drivers have not always been following all the rules, Hines said in the interview. In some cases, he said, cab drivers did not know all the rules about passenger rights.

“We’ve been working on ways to better communicate with drivers about what the rules and regulations are, just so that the passenger experience is better,” said Hines in the interview.

The final recommendation from the board to city leaders addresses the number of complaints related to cleanliness and overall driver-rider experience in taxis.

Hines believes increasing the number of queue permits is a good first step, but the vehicle-for-hire licensing board deemed it crucial that City Council address the additional proposals.

The Community News Service is a program in which University of Vermont students work with professional editors to provide content for local news outlets at no cost.

Latest Stories