Minibus driver: I did not provoke attack
A minibus operator punched by a taxi driver in a transportation turf war at an island beach said there was tension between the two groups, but that there was enough work for everyone.
Larry Franklin Sr said: “Some people feel the minibus is overpowering. It’s not overpowering because when all of those people need to be moved, the minibus can move them. If a family comes out with 29 people they can all move on one bus instead of four taxis.
“When people come off the beach and say they want a taxi, we don’t put them in a minibus. If they want a taxi, they get a taxi.”
He added: “Taxi drivers can tell you that when I’m dispatching, everyone gets work. If people want to go right away as a family, I put them in a taxi.”
Dr Franklin, 67, who is a former teacher with a PhD in counselling, was speaking days after cabbie Aaron Scott was fined $1,000 for an assault on him at Horseshoe Beach, Southampton in August last year.
Scott, 34, a former pupil of Dr Franklin’s, punched him in the face in a row over passengers in the beach’s car park. Dr Franklin, of Warwick, suffered a cut lip and numbness in his mouth and teeth as a result of the blow.
He said it was a busy day at the beach and several visitors had requested a minibus.
Dr Franklin added: “I assigned them a minibus and they were waiting on the side.
“Aaron came over from where the taxis usually stand to the minibus area asking people if they wanted a taxi, but they didn’t need a taxi so I answered they didn’t need a taxi.
“That is the only thing I said. Seconds later he punched me in my mouth.
Dr Franklin added: “I didn’t know what happened. I felt a punch, my glasses came off, my hat came off.
“He moved away but started to come back as if he wanted to fight me but another taxi driver grabbed him by the neck and held him back. My teeth were knocked back, I couldn’t close my mouth properly and my lip was bleeding.”
He said Scott later apologised but did not offer to pay for his medical expenses.
Dr Franklin said he was caught off guard by the punch and that he had done nothing to provoke the blow.
He said: “I’m a peacemaker. I’m a counsellor and an educator. I’m counselling people about their behaviour. There is no way I would be an example of what I’m telling folks not to do.
“Even when I was teaching at the high school level, I counselled with my kids. I’m a counsellor first, then an educator.
“I have never had a confrontations with anyone. No minibus drivers, no taxi drivers. I think the last time I was punched I was 16 and I deserved it.”
Dr Franklin said that the island’s tourism industry needed a strong minibus operation as well as a good taxi service.
He explained: “We have ships that bring thousands of people to the dock at the same time and they are released at the same time. There are only so many taxis, and they are eaten up just like that.
“The minibuses can carry anywhere from 14 to 29 people at a time and I have seen times when the people have emptied the yard — every taxi is gone, every minibus is gone and minibuses are coming in a rotational basis just to get people to Horseshoe Bay.
“Taxi drivers can say they can leave right away and they can leave right away.
“But a minibus is a shared ride. We’re not leaving with three people. We are paid per person.”