ABIA Ground Transportation facility

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September 21, 2009
Austin City Council
Office of Mike Martinez, Mayor Pro Tem
City Hall 301 W.2nd St 2nd floor
Austin, TX 78701

Re: Ground Transportation facility at Austin Bergstrom International Airport

Dear Council Member:

The Taxi Drivers Association of Austin is writing you to voice their concerns over the deplorable conditions at the ground transportation staging area at ABIA.

Over the last 10 years Austin ground transportation providers have repeatedly voiced their concerns about the unsanitary and unhealthy conditions at the ABIA taxi staging area. We are simply asking to be treated humanely, but our voices have been ignored consistently by airport management.

Ground transportation providers continue to endure extreme temperatures of heat during the summer and extreme temperatures of cold during the winter. As you are aware the summer of 2009 was particularly brutal, with temperatures above 100 degrees for more than 60 days. The heat is suffocating and intense. Drivers are forced to look for what little relief they can find under the trees at the airport. Fans were installed last year; however this just intensifies the heat more as the fans only blow more hot air during the daytime. Airport management then installed a tent with a misting system to quiet the drivers’ complaints regarding the heat. This did not address our complaints. We still are suffocating from the humidity and high temperature: the tent does nothing to cool us off.

An Austin Mayor once called Austin taxi drivers "Ambassadors for the city". Can you imagine what people must think when they get in a car with a driver who has been sweating in extreme temperatures and potentially smells of sweat and odor after working at the airport all day? This is not how you treat an "Ambassador for the city".

Ground transportation providers have to also deal with unsanitary conditions at the staging area. The restrooms, particularly the men’s restroom, are a cesspool of filth. This is due to the small restroom facility that’s supposed to facilitate the use of hundreds of male taxi drivers. We have two urinals for the male drivers. Airport ground transportation supervisors have laid the blame on us by labeling us dirty. However take a visit to the bathrooms yourself and you will notice spider webs, filthy walls, rusty urinals, air vents that do not work properly, and lack of continuous cleaning. Take a look at the patio at the facility and you will find extremely dirty walls and sidewalks. The facilities vending machines are dirty on top, underneath, and inside-these need to be cleaned. The facility is filled with roaches, mice and insects. These are really unsanitary conditions perpetuated by ABIA neglect, not by the drivers. Several times staff members of the ground transportation department have said to us "if you don’t like it out here you don’t have to work here", however this view is short sighted and wrong-we do have to work here to make a living.

We provide an important service to ABIA, and through the airport surcharge, have collected millions of dollars in taxes for the City since ABIA opened.

We are simply asking to be treated as humanely.

Our Solutions

The Taxi Drivers Association of Austin proposes the following:

  1. An enclosed air conditioning facility for the ground transportation providers.
  2. More and larger urinals in the men’s bathroom.
  3. All bathrooms high pressured washed at least once a week- the ceilings and walls.
  4. A kitchen like area for the cab drivers with running water and sink to eat their meals.
  5. High pressure washes for the patio sidewalk and walls once a week.
  6. Cleaning of the vending machines on a weekly basis.
  7. Bathroom maintenance check every 3 hours.
  8. Beautify the area around the airport staging area.

We as a group feel these improvements will help the ground transportation providers perform at their best as Ambassadors to the city of Austin.

Sincerely,

Board of Directors
Taxi Drivers Association of Austin
PO Box 29734
Austin, Texas 78755

Related item:
City Council Resolution