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Taxi Drivers Get Extension Of BWI Contract

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- BWI taxi drivers successfully fended off a state move to award the airport taxi contract to an operator in Virginia.

Drivers staged a protest in Annapolis Tuesday but, as Pat Warren reports, they consider Wednesday's decision to extend the BWI Marshall contract a hollow victory.

Airport cabs drive bumper to bumper---not at BWI, but at the State House in Annapolis to protest the award of the state contract to operate cabs at the airport to a business based in Virginia.

An appeal for help did not fall on deaf ears.  Wednesday, the Board of Public Works, chaired by Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, extended the contract of the current Maryland-based operator for a year while a number of issues get ironed out.

But drivers are still dissatisfied.

"The main problem in our business is the middleman.  The middleman makes big money in this business and the drivers stay poor," said Homayon Borchalooee.

Although drivers own and operate their own cabs, the state contract goes to a management company, which then charges the drivers to work at the airport.

"They can fire them at any time, give them a hard time," said Samson Yemenu.

The drivers have formed an association and believe the state should let them work directly with the airport without a managing go-between.

"We don't need someone else to guide us, what we do.  We are the one who are buying our cars, we are the one paying insurance on our cars," said Tamrat Zelek.

The drivers' association will take the next year to convince the state to put them in the driver's seat.

The Department of Transportation will review the contract.

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