Two men who want to start a new cab company faced off with the lawyer for the market-dominating Metro Taxi last Tuesday at a Department of Transportation hearing.

The men, John Misurale and Ed Kulenski, have been seeking the state’s permission to start a new company, since they believe the city is not being adequately served by Metro. At the first public hearing on the matter, Metro lawyer Charles Needle questioned whether any formal complaints had been filed against the company and picked apart the testimony of seven former Metro drivers who were supporting the new company.

The hearing will be continued March 28 at the DOT’s Newington headquarters.

Misurale said he hopes to submit an affidavit from the mayor’s office, which will say the city has received numerous complaints about Metro’s service.

Afterward, the hearing officer will have 90 days to rule on the permit application, potentially bringing to a close what has become a nearly six-month-long mission to break Metro’s near-monopoly on the New Haven cab scene.

Although the first hearing was held in New Haven at the request of Alderman Jelani Lawson ’96 so local residents could attend, the second hearing will be held in Newington for the benefit of the DOT, said Robert Cumpstone, the department’s manager of regulation and compliance.

“At the end of the first session everyone who wished to speak had finished speaking,” Cumpstone said. “But for the staff of the department to travel to New Haven and get a room when the issues that remain are mostly financial wherewithal, personal character, matters that probably quite honestly bore the average citizen.”

Cumpstone added the hearing would be open to anyone who wished to testify.

But Lawson, who testified at the first hearing about his own experiences with Metro Taxi, noted the move to Newington slighted local residents affected by Metro.

“I think it’s an obvious disservice because it’s the citizens of New Haven that have to deal with Metro Taxi on a day-to-day basis,” Lawson said.

Lawson also said that since the first hearing took place at 10 a.m. on a weekday, many residents were unable to attend, and because it fell during Yale’s spring break, many students dissatisfied with Metro’s service were out of town.

Even though they don’t have their own company yet, Misurale said, he and Kulenski plan to provide rides to Newington to anyone wishing to testify about Metro’s service.

Though both Needle and Misurale said it was too early to predict the ruling, Misurale remained hopeful the testimony would sway the DOT.

“When Metro’s own drivers got up there and testified against them, the DOT [seemed] more or less shocked,” Misurale said. “But it’s very hard because Mr. Scalzi has a lot of power.”

Metro’s owner, William Scalzi, could not be reached for comment.

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