Taxi driver bid for airport policy change rejected by new commission chairwoman

Andrea Spears Jackson is the new chairwoman of the License Commission. (Photo: Suffolk University Law School)

Andrea Spears Jackson is the new chairwoman of the License Commission. (Photo: Suffolk University Law School)

There will be no change in taxi fares to the airport when the Callahan Tunnel closes for repairs Dec. 27 to March 12.

Taxi drivers, facing rising competition from smartphone-enabled car services such as Uber and its new, lower-cost UberX, asked the License Commission on Tuesday for a break on the tunnel closing’s new challenge to their profitability.

The tunnel is the main route from Cambridge to the airport, and Cambridge policy requires flat rates for taxi rides to Logan from city hotels and vice versa, ranging from $26 to $56 depending on the distance of the hotel and time of day, longtime Cambridge taxi driver Lawrence Prift said.

“The flat rate is based on time and distance from the hotel to the airport, and the Callahan Tunnel is critical to that,” Prift argued.

According to Prift, a policy change would not be without precedence.

“The concern after the Big Dig collapse in 2006 was so great an issue that Mitt Romney ordered closing of all tunnels for inspection, including the Callahan,” Prift said. “What we did then will work now.”

Despite his efforts, the policy change was denied by the License Commission because the Ted Williams Tunnel will remain open during the Callahan’s three-month closing, allowing taxis to make it from Cambridge to the airport in a reasonable amount of time, License Commission chairwoman Andrea Spears Jackson said. She recommended that Prift and other taxi drivers visit the state Department of Transportation website for information about alternate routes during the closure.

Experience in personnel, transportation

Jackson was presiding over her first meeting as chairwoman after the departure of Michael Gardner. Before moving to Atlanta in 2001, she was the city’s employee relations manager and then purchasing agent.

Since her return to Massachusetts, she has worked at the state Department of Transportation as deputy director and director for employee relations, acting director in the Office of Labor Relations, director of Right of Way and chief advisor to the secretary of transportation, according to City Manager Richard C. Rossi.

She has bachelor’s and law degrees from Suffolk University and has been active in many Cambridge community associations, serving as a board member of the Cambridge YWCA and as a member of the Martin Luther King School Neighborhood Council, Rossi said.

“Ms. Jackson has a great deal of experience in project management, regulatory proceedings, legal analysis and personnel administration. I am pleased to welcome Ms. Jackson back,” he said.

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