The Washington Flyer taxi drivers are being cheated out of their time, money and dignity by the management of Washington-Dulles Transportation Ltd. (WDT Ltd.) [front page, Aug. 9]. Fortunately, WDT Ltd.'s concession contract with the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority expires on Nov. 1.
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) has called for a congressional investigation [Metro, Aug. 10], but he demands that it commence after the contract is awarded. This is unacceptable.
For 10 years, the Washington Flyer taxi drivers have been forced to work under oppressive conditions. Drivers who lease their cabs from Farouq Massoud are charged $500 a week, even if their cabs are undergoing repairs. Moreover, Mr. Massoud has increased the number of taxis 120 percent in the past 10 years while the number of passengers has increased 35 percent. This forces drivers to work seven days a week, 24 hours a day, to earn a living.
Further, WDT Ltd. pays $447,000 to the airport authority per year for its exclusive concession contract. However, Mr. Massoud is believed to net more than $5.5 million annually from this contract.
An investigation must begin before awarding the concession for three reasons:
First, the appalling treatment of the cabdrivers must be corrected. Public safety is jeopardized when a customer places his life in the hands of a cabdriver who has not slept in 24 hours.
Second, to wait to examine WDT Ltd. until after the contract bidding would be wasteful and costly to the taxpayers. Moreover, its removal after the concession was awarded would disrupt travel at Dulles Airport.
Third, Congress has sufficient time and resources to conduct a thorough and fair investigation prior to the expiration of the current contract on Oct. 31. By completing the investigation before Nov. 1, all parties interested in obtaining the concession will be given an unbiased opportunity to bid.