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Taxis move along Main Street, St. Thomas, as they look for passengers.

There is a big elephant in the room when it comes to Virgin Islands taxis. Kind of a hush-hush, long-known secret that we don’t talk about.

But the recent debate over whether V.I. taxis should be forced to become credit/debit card friendly has created a stir. And it’s bringing that elephant right out into the open.

Sen. Kurt Vialet is sponsoring legislation requiring an electronic monitoring system for taxi cab payments.

In keeping with the territory’s new goal of becoming the No. 1 destination, Sen. Vialet is attempting to create a competitive payment system that other destinations use. That means allowing credit/debit cards when paying.

Sen Vialet has said we all need to step up our game, and V.I. Tourism Commissioner designee Joseph Boschulte agrees.

They couldn’t be more right.

Predictably, many taxi owners don’t want to have to accept any payment other than cash. And while changes in life are often a bit hard, this one is a no-brainer. In the 21st century, people travel with credit cards. It’s safer and allows you to track spending.

Taxi cabs are big business in our community, an important business that tourists rely on. Rides are priced per person, to a destination, with extra fees for luggage. To be competitive in tourism, our islands have to offer every convenience, at every step of the way. If it means dragging an industry into normal business practices, so be it.

Here is where the big elephant rumbles into this quandary. For most, cash is not traceable in business, but paper trails are. And taxis have been a cash business forever.

Getting to the top of the destination industry is going to be hard and painful work. It means fixing everything we can, or getting left in the dust.

If we don’t, insisting on cash won’t matter, because those spending it will be going elsewhere.

— Maria Ferreras is a longtime St. Thomas resident and community volunteer. She can be reached at maria@dailynews.vi.