Cabbie Group is Out of Dulles Competition

By Tom Jackman
The Washington Post
Monday, January 31, 2000; 12:06 PM

After several postponements, the competition for the taxicab concession at Dulles International Airport is finally underway, but the drivers who complained of poor working conditions last summer are not in the running.

Last year, many of the 472 drivers at Dulles said that the fees charged by the current contractor, Farouq Massoud, were so high that they had to work 16-hour days seven days a week. Some drivers said they were working around-the-clock, sleeping in their cabs in order to collect as many fares as possible. Massoud said his fees were comparable with those of other cab companies, and unhappy drivers could go work elsewhere.

Instead, the drivers formed an association, and as Massoud's contract expired in October, they hoped to put together a bid that would enable them to operate the Washington Flyer fleet. But bidders were required to construct a new building for the dispatch office and drivers' lounge, and pay Massoud more than $229,000 for the improvements he made to the cab staging area, which is being moved to make room for a new parking garage near the main terminal.

"It was cost prohibitive," said Robert B. Nealon, an attorney for the drivers' association. "The guys don't have the financial resources to make a bid."

Nealon said he has been speaking with airport authority officials, trying to make arrangements for the drivers to work for whoever wins the next contract, but "they have delayed meeting with us." Tom Sullivan, an authority spokesman, said he was unaware of those discussions.

The deadline for submitting bids was Dec. 23. Sullivan would not disclose how many groups applied for the contract. He said authority staff will review the written applications, then interview each of the applicants whose paperwork is in order. The staff will report to the authority's business administration committee, which will make a recommendation to the authority's board of directors. Sullivan said the authority hopes to select a contractor by April. Massoud's contract has been extended until his successor is in place.

The new contractor will face a review by the Department of Transportation's inspector general. The review was requested by U.S. Reps. Frank R. Wolf (R), James P. Moran Jr. (D) and Thomas M. Davis III (R) after The Washington Post reported the drivers' complaints.

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