Tuesday, April 16, 2024

New regulations by SPTC on golf cart rentals causing mixed reactions


For the past years, the issue of traffic congestion in the downtown area of San Pedro has been a constant challenge to tackle. The cause has been attributed to congestion in specific areas, such as the local airport and water taxi terminals. As such, the San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) is implementing restrictions for golf cart rentals at these ports of entry, prohibiting them from parking, loading, unloading, and soliciting business. These restrictions did not sit well with some stakeholders, who felt targeted, describing these as unfair and harmful for their companies. A call was also made to reconsider part of the regulation and further investigate the issue of taxi drivers taking up street space and overcharging.
The SPTC said on Tuesday, October 10th, that they would enforce these restrictions. They said this is to regulate the downtown congestion and give visitors a better impression of the island upon arrival. The SPTC added that they are working with all relevant partners, including those thinking they are targeted.
The main issue that has led to these regulations is constant complaints that golf cart rentals and taxi cabs flocked to the arrival lounge of the John Greif II Municipal Airport and Central Park, where water taxis dock. There has been visible soliciting in these areas, with golf cart rentals and taxi drivers offering their services to the newly arrived visitors to the island. According to SPTC, this has become a problem as golf cart rental and taxi associations sometimes do not get along as they compete for the business. The local authorities maintained that trade license regulations state that golf cart companies must operate within their premises and that representatives should not be soliciting or carrying out business at the ports of entry.
A couple of the golf cart rental operators told The San Pedro Sun that they understand the no soliciting request, but they should be allowed to pick up or drop off their clients whenever they request such service when reserving. They acknowledge the friction with the taxi associations and believe they can work together. The cart rental proprietors added that they are willing to work with other service providers and hope the local authorities can consult with them to develop a better system so everyone can make a living without conflicts.
While golf cart rentals are willing to reach an agreement, they call on the taxi associations to also do their part. A resident who asked to stay anonymous said taxis should operate from their designated association areas and move only when a customer requests their services. They suggested that someone should be at these ports of entry to verify that, if allowed, when a golf cart rental shows up to pick up a customer, they have proof of reservation. The recommendations also noted that if taxis transport customers to golf cart rentals or their accommodation, there should be a standard rate as some cabs are reportedly overcharging for their runs.
The SPTC recently disassociated itself from a post shared on social media with updated taxi rates. The post indicated that the increased rates had been approved with the knowledge of the town council and were later explained to be only for tourists. However, some island residents said even locals are being charged those rates, which have increased by $5 on short-distance runs.
Mayor Gualberto ‘Wally’ Nuñez said they were not associated with such suggested new taxi rates and that his team would release a statement. The Mayor also said they would work with the taxi associations to regulate the proposed rates and parking as many islanders complain that some of these large taxi vans take up much space on the streets.
This is not a new issue, as attempts to control this issue were previously discussed in April 2021 after tourists complained about the aggressiveness soliciting behavior from both parties observed at the local airport or water taxi terminals. Many residents in San Pedro welcomed this effort to tackle the situation, creating friction among golf cart rentals and taxi drivers. However, they believe the problem will continue growing into a more significant issue without proper enforcement.

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