Several taxi companies in Columbia have filed suit against the Columbia Metropolitan Airport because they have been banned from transporting passengers to and from the airport.
The five cab companies – Miracle Taxi, Angel Taxi, BBB Taxi, Palmetto Taxi and Budget Cab – say the airport’s Oct. 1 ban is a violation of the state constitution.
The cabbies also say in the civil suit, filed Nov. 29 in Richland County court, that the ban wipes out the majority of the income of these small cab companies, which are mostly mom-and pop type operations, in favor of three large local cab companies, Checker Yellow, Blue Ribbon and Capital City Cab.
The airport also allows UBER drivers to continue operating at CAE, picking up passengers and dropping them off.
Small cabbies can earn up to 90 percent of their income from airports, according to Mark Schnee, the Columbia attorney representing the small cab companies.
The cabbies’ lawsuit claims the airport’s decision to ban small cab companies is tied to a Fort Jackson ban on the small cab companies entering the fort.
Under new rules extended to cab companies in August, which became effective Oct. 1, the airport required all cab companies operating at the airport to sign a contract, according to the lawsuit. The contract states that any taxi company wanting to sign a contract with the airport must be permitted to enter Fort Jackson, the suit states.
Security changes at Fort Jackson caused the small cabbies to be banned, the lawsuit states. However, the small cab companies can still be permitted to pick up and deliver passengers to McCrady Training Center adjacent to Fort Jackson, McEntire Joint National Guard Base near Eastover and Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, it states.
Schnee, the plaintiff’s attorney, said the new rule is uconstitutional because the airport serves a larger population than Fort Jackson, including general visitors to the Capital City, business travelers, sporting events, and many others.
Small cab companies allowed to operate at the airport cannot have a residential address, according to the lawsuit, and must have a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week dispatch phone number.
An official with the Columbia Metropolitan Airport said she could not comment on the allegations in the lawsuit because it is a legal matter.
Roddie Burris: 803-771-8398