Suppressing competition in Edgartown


To the Editor:

Martha’s Vineyard Transport’s D.P.U. Charter (3) 14 passenger vans will continue to conduct legal tours through the downtown streets, just like in the previous four years. The town of Edgartown was successful in stopping my local company from expanding into ticket sales for my 15-passenger van tours and being able to travel through downtown Edgartown. The legal team from Edgartown convinced the Massachusetts D.P.U. that the downtown traffic creates relevant and serious public safety concerns. At the appeals hearing in Boston, it was described, in my opinion, as an accident waiting to happen.

The traffic has not increased since 1994, and Edgartown has done nothing to alleviate this danger to its downtown in the last 15 years until now, maybe stopping two, 15-passenger vans per hour. The retired police chief of 17 years had stated in 2010 that the increase of traffic this van tour would bring is a non-issue. At the same selectmen’s meeting selectman Art Smadbeck said they are vans, not buses, and sees no problem. Selectman Smadbeck is on record in 2011 — “nobody wants these tours.” How about the petition signed by many business people in downtown Edgartown, don’t they count?

The above is bad enough, but now let me add what leaves me in disbelief. The Edgartown selectmen have been informed many times that Edgartown Taxis with 14-passenger vans, licensed by the selectmen, advertise on website, display ads, and do street solicitation for tours in downtown Edgartown. Taxicabs are licensed and insured to carry people and goods from place to place, not to do tours. Where else in Massachusetts is this happening? I hope Edgartown homeowners who signed that misleading petition, written by a well respected North Water Street homeowner, about fences being knocked over, and the return of the bus tours. and the many homeowners who emailed the selectman against my “Bus Tours” in January will now “Do The Right Thing,” and tell your selectman to stop this illegal competition. In 2011 one more company was licensed by the D.P.U. as a charter company, and will be doing tours through your neighborhood.

If Martha’s Vineyard Transport was allowed the ticket tour license there would be fewer tours on your Edgartown streets. In Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs, where many people are unhappy with their only choice of a painted school bus, many without A/C search for an alternative, and many find taxicabs willing to take them for a sightseeing tour including downtown Edgartown. If the tourist were given another option there would be a lot less taxi tours and car rental tours.

Martha’s Vineyard Transport is not the only loser over this decision by the Massachusetts D.P.U. The elderly tourists who are not wealthy enough to charter their own A/C van and not healthy enough to walk the streets of Edgartown on a hot summer day, never get to see the real beauty of Edgartown. The businesses of Edgartown who get exposure, and maybe new customers who come back for a week vacation the following year after seeing the real beauty of Edgartown. The 95% of the taxpayers of Edgartown who could not care less if vans gave a tour through the streets of Edgartown, but now must pay many thousands in legal fees. What a victory.

I would like to thank the many Edgartown businesses who signed the petition in favor of these tours, and the selectmen from the other five towns on Martha’s Vineyard who unanimously approved a ticket tour operators license for Martha’s Vineyard Transport.

Ron Minkin

Martha’s Vineyard Transport

Oak Bluffs