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Islip OKs airport taxi contract amid concerns

A line of taxis wait for customers at

A line of taxis wait for customers at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma. (Jan. 24, 2013) Credit: Daniel Brennan

Islip officials have awarded a contract to an Islandia-based company for taxi service at Long Island MacArthur Airport, despite concerns by another firm over the integrity of the bidding process.

Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci said Thursday the town attorney's office told him the request for proposal process -- which resulted in the contract going to JTE Enterprises Inc. -- was appropriately conducted.

But George Blank, an official from Medford-based Winston Transportation Group, said at the board's Tuesday meeting, where the contract was awarded, the process was "very flawed. . . . It's been horrendous," he said. "I just think the process was not as transparent as it should have been."

In a Jan. 28 letter to the town board, Winston officials alleged they were given the wrong time for "pre-RFP conference" and the wrong deadline date.

"This RFP and its handling have been riddled with irregularities and did not fairly provide us, and perhaps others, with information to make a meaningful proposal," the letter said.

The town issued an RFP in November, seeking to professionalize the airport's taxi fleet, which has drawn complaints about price gouging.

JTE was the only applicant of four that met the bid requirements, including putting up a $10,000 bid bond. It also agreed to cut its fares by 30 percent.

Bob Procha, a manager at JTE, said the company is making an investment in the airport. "We're hoping we can just survive there right now and grow with the airport."

Airport Commissioner Robert Schaefer said Winston failed to submit its fare rates and the required bid deposit. "The consumer got lower rates," he said. "It worked out really well."

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