Portand retracts new airport cab policy, still eyes changes

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PORTLAND — The city has revoked a policy change the would have required taxi drivers to appear in person to get their permits to operate at the Portland International Jetport.

The move comes after a group of 12 immigrant taxi drivers filed a lawsuit in Cumberland County Superior Court to prevent the policy change from taking effect Jan. 1.

The drivers rely on power of attorney to renew their airport permits twice a year if they are out of town.

Airport Director Paul Bradbury said in a press release the “potentially costly litigation” would not be the best way to address concerns with power-of-attorney transfers.

In recent years, the city, capped at 40 the number of airport taxi permits, but grandfathered an additional 10 permits. No other drivers could receive airport permits until the number dropped below 40.

Bradbury said policy and ordinance changes will be sought in the coming months to address concerns.

The primary concern, he said, is that the permits are possibly being transferred from one driver to another to prevent the number of permits from being lowered, which keeps other drivers out of the market.

Sigmund Schutz, the attorney representing the drivers, said he has notified the court that he will be filing a settlement agreement with the city.

Schutz said the city has a draft of that agreement, which spells out the preservation of the old policy, subject to changes in city, state and local law.

Once approved by the city and court, the lawsuit would be dismissed, he said.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @randybillings