Taxi Cab Burlington Vermont

Click to enlarge SEAN METCALF

One driver peddled drugs out of his cab. Another posed a lewd question to a 14-year-old girl. A third continued to pick up passengers after getting busted for driving under the influence of drugs. Allegations of misconduct in Burlington's cab industry have so accelerated that one of the regulators recently sent out a plea for help.

In a May 12 email obtained by Seven Days, Isaac Trombley, who runs the Taxi Administration Office at the Burlington International Airport, asked city hall officials: "Does somebody need to get hurt in order for this to become a priority?"

It's no secret that Burlington's taxi industry lacks supervision. But eight months after Mayor Miro Weinberger's administration drafted a report to address it, the problem only appears to have gotten worse.

One company in particular triggered Trombley's email: Blazer Transportation, owned by Ricky Handy, who's been in the taxi business since 1980. Trombley declined to comment for this story, but in an email to other officials last December, he wrote: "This man runs his company the way he sees fit and is constantly challenging our operation, rules and regulation." In his May 12 email he noted, "It has been FIVE months and my office has gotten absolutely nowhere with the violations associated by this company."

The list of Blazer's alleged transgressions include allowing an employee to drive after his license was suspended for a DUI; dispatching an unlicensed driver to pick up people at the airport; doubling up passengers; and charging more than the legal rate. Officials claim that all of these violations took place at the airport, the only spot where taxis and contract vehicles are supervised.

In his email, Trombley added that a Blazer driver told him one coworker was selling buprenorphine out of his company vehicle while another regularly drank on the job.

Asked about the complaints, Handy delivered a lengthy telephonic tirade about the taxi officials, calling them "off-the-wall dictators" who "don't understand what they're doing." He denied charging higher rates but acknowledged grouping separate passengers in the same vehicle, arguing that the city doesn't have the authority to prohibit that. He called the unlicensed allegation a "moot point" because the errant driver has since obtained one.

As for the other complaints, Handy bounced the blame back on those accusing him of disregarding the rules.

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