Sacramento County supervisors decided Tuesday to open up the airport taxi business to more than one company, but some companies questioned whether the selection process will be fair.
The Board of Supervisors has held several meetings about how to handle taxi service at Sacramento International Airport because an agreement with an independent operator will expire this year.
Airport staff asked the board to keep the contract to a single operator because of costs and other problems associated with having more than one taxi service.
But a majority of supervisors say they want greater competition in the service, and that airport staff has overstated concerns about potential problems.
Supervisors voted 4-1 to create a contracting process that could potentially give the taxi contract to more than one operator. Companies may bid on one or both of the contracts to provide service at each of the airport's two terminals.
Supervisor Jimmie Yee, who wanted to stay with a single operator, voted against the proposal.
While the vote was good news for taxi companies hoping to win a part of the airport business, some representatives expressed reservations about the contracting process.
An official from the Sacramento Central Labor Council, which represents some drivers, said the airport's past desire to keep the system closed raises questions about its fairness in evaluating contract proposals.
Attorney Gregory Thatch, representing Yellow Cab, agreed with that assessment, and added that under the proposal rules, a single company could win both contracts up for bid. That would eliminate supervisors' wish to promote competition, he said.
Contract proposals will be scored by a five-member committee with members from the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau, another airport, an airline and two representatives from the county airport system.
Supervisors said if there's any bias in the committee's recommendation, they will have a chance to find it. Supervisors also noted they will have the final say on any airport contract.