Tempers flared during a mid-morning Tuesday meeting hosted by the Anchorage Transportation Commission, on the re-write of Anchorage Ordinance 11.
Taxi drivers, many of them saying they just getting off from a late night shift, were infuriated at the early hour and little advance notice they had for the meeting.
"Nobody included us, we are the cab drivers," said one driver. "We are the taxi industry - we were not included in this."
Drivers were angry about the new proposal authored by former Assembly Member Debbie Ossiander. It would change the way taxi permits are issued and abolish the commission.
As of late April, there were 173 permits in existence, not including 15 new ones just approved by the commission.
"We've tried [it] your way for 38 years, it's broken,” said former dispatcher Mark Marion, who supports the changes. “The taxi cab industry as we know it [is] broken right now."
Permits have been issued through an auction process. If the changes to the ordinance pass, the Transportation Commission Chair says applicants would get them under a first come first serve basis.
Veteran cab drivers voiced their concerns about the potential changes at the meeting.
“You have to work in real life to know what people are going through, don't destroy what we have worked so hard for,” pleaded Cabbie Dayo Ajayi. “I worked so hard to get my permit, and you want to make it non-transferable."
The Anchorage Cabaret Hotel Restaurant and Retailers Association backed the ordinance re-write. The director of group says customers have suffered from long waits during peak fare times.
“Public safety is what we're after,” said Silvia Villamides. “We would like the service to be there, not only at Bar Break, which is very important to us, also during the Holidays."
More public hearings were scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.
Contact Adam Pinsker