Originally created 07/15/06

All's fare? We don't think so



Well, where were they - those seven independent taxi companies that raised a huge public fuss last March?

Remember, they even filed a lawsuit alleging a monopoly on service at Augusta Regional Airport.

Oddly, they were nowhere to be seen earlier this month when, for the first time in 21 years, they had a chance to enter into a contract with the airport. After the July 7 enrollment date passed, only Radio Cab was at the taxi stand, having coughed up the $360-per-car fee. This means that for the next six months at least, nothing will change. Radio Cab taxis will still have the "airport monopoly."

It didn't have to be that way. Any of the other smaller taxi companies also could have shelled out $360 for a decal that would have let them take a spot in line at the cab stand, but they chose not to.

This is the same group that forged such a strong public protest against Radio Cab last March that they forced a concession to allow them to work the airport at Masters Week.

But that wasn't enough. They followed up with a lawsuit in June against Radio Cab, the city of Augusta, the Augusta Aviation Commission and Augusta Regional Airport, alleging collusion and antitrust violations. The ambitious suit not only seeks to terminate the alleged monopoly, but also to collect monetary damages, legal fees and court costs.

Yet when the independents were given a chance this month to compete, they were no-shows. Even their attorney said they could have signed up without damaging their lawsuit.

The fact that they didn't lends credence to Radio Cab's contention that the independents are not interested in working the airport during the slow periods when business is down, but only during the busy periods when business is booming, especially Masters Week.

Although the independents deny it, that certainly looks like cherry-picking to us. They want the benefits of the good times, but not the drudge work of the hard times.

It's fine to protest against authority and demand change - but only if the authority is wrong and the change would be fair and constructive.

By that standard, the independents come up short.