April 9, 2009

Selectmen: Multi-day shutdown punishment enough for taxi company

April 9, 2009 By Bethany Bray

Selectmen hope a taxi company has learned its lesson about using unmarked vehicles.

A concerned citizen, surprised to be picked up in a private vehicle after calling for a taxi, tipped police off to a local taxi service operating without the proper insurance in mid-February.

The Andover Mega Airport Transportation Taxi & Private Car Livery Service, based at 1 Dundee Park, was given a cease and desist order from Feb. 17 to 20 and cited by police for seven different violations of town rules and regulations regarding vehicle for hire businesses.

Jose Javier, owner of Andover Mega, said a lapse in finances caused his taxi insurance to be cancelled, and he has since been reinsured and is back in business.

"Sometimes you're working as hard as you can, trying to be on time for everything. Times are tough right now, and I was trying to pay my rent, phone bill, everything at the same time," said Javier. "It was just timing. I chose to just park the cars and shut the business down for a week."

All of Andover Mega's taxi plates were reactivated on Feb. 20 and Javier's taxi cars have since passed inspections by the Andover Police. A letter of warning has been placed in Andover Mega's file in the town clerk's office following February's incident.

Andover Public Safety Officer Charles "Chuck" Edgerly said Javier has been "very cooperative."

After receiving an anonymous phone call, Edgerly asked Officer Joseph Davies to dress in plain clothes and call for a taxi from the Andover train station the afternoon of Feb. 17.

Andover Mega Taxi driver Felix Batista arrived in his personal vehicle, without taxi license plates, to pick up Davies. Davies got in, and asked Batista why he wasn't driving a taxi car.

Batista said the taxis were being painted.

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