Winning bid for airport taxis is challenged
By Mike Leidemann
Advertiser Transportation Writer
Ampco System Parking has been selected to run the new taxi management concession at Honolulu International Airport, but the choice is being challenged by the company that has the contract now.
The state Transportation Department this month picked Ampco to run the concession, which dispatches taxis at the airport.
Signature Cab Holdings, the company that has been running the operation since the previous concessionaire went bankrupt in May, says Ampco is not qualified under the department's own rules.
"Either you do not understand the ... general qualifying restrictions, or this is an intentional and knowing discrimination against Signature specifically, and Hawai'i business in general," the company said in a letter to DOT.
In June, the state advertised for companies to run the concession. In response to complaints that previous operator SIDA favored its own taxi drivers, the state included a provision barring applicants that ran a ground transportation business.
That effectively excluded Signature, which does business as TheCab, but the company applied anyway.
When the state picked Ampco this month to begin negotiations on a new contract worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, Signature noted that Ampco is heavily involved in ground transportation on the Mainland.
The nationwide parking company operates a system of ground shuttle services moving customers from outlying parking areas to central locations at Mainland airports, Signature said.
"Why is Signature disqualified, but Ampco qualified, when both manage, operate and administer ground transportation businesses," the company asked DOT. It noted that the state's request for qualifications did not mention any geographical limitations.
Transportation Department spokesman Scott Ishikawa said the state would ask Ampco to respond to the charges before taking any further action on awarding a contract.
Meanwhile, Signature continues to operate the concession at Honolulu International Airport, and says it has eliminated the complaints of unfair treatment that proliferated under SIDA.
Reach Mike Leidemann at 525-5460 or firstname.lastname@example.org.