Too Few Taxis?

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

Grand Valley residents, bars, and hotels say it's a problem they face on a daily basis -- too many people needing rides and too few taxis to take them. But now, one Grand Junction man is trying to change that.

Kevan Kohlman says there's nothing he likes more than driving taxis. And if he has his way, he'll soon be sharing that passion with Grand Valley residents.

"There's a dire need for another call and demand cab service in the Grand Valley," said Kohlman.

Kohlman has filed an applications with the Colorado Public Utilties Commission for a license to start his own taxi cab company. But he'll have to clear a few hurdles before reaching that goal.

"I expected I would get a protest because just the creation of another taxi service would make the current service work less," said Kohlman.

Sunshine Taxi in Grand Junction recently filed an intervention with the PUC to prevent Kohlman from getting the license. The company declined an on-camera interview but in a phone conversation told 11 News in these tough economic times, ridership is down and a profit is harder to come by. They also said their service is adequate and meets all the needs the Valley has. Kohlman feels differently.

"Routinely people that call cabs wait one to two hours," said Kohlman.

Sunshine Taxi operates 12 cabs 24 hours a day, and says average wait times are about 15 to 20 minutes -- but the company did acknowledge it can sometimes take longer.

When 11 News went out and asked people about their experiences with cabs, we were hard pressed to find anyone who said longer wasn't average.

"I'd rather walk," said George Hall, a frequent cab rider. "They take a half hour or more sometimes."

"They take very long, especially when you have the worst person in the bar that you want to get a taxi for," said Desirae Bazile, a bartender at Fast Eddy's. "You call, you pay for it and then it's like a three hour wait."

"It's kind of a hassle because our guests get mad because they have to wait so long and they have dinner plans," said Callie, an employee at the Doubletree Hotel.

They say that can especially be a problem late at night and on weekends, when people who shouldn't be driving get impatient.

"Once they wait an hour they're like I'm gone," said Bazile.

And while they say they're not trying to take a stab at Sunshine Taxi, many think another taxi company in the Valley would do everyone some good.

"There needs to be at least one more so there's just some honest competition," said Hall.

"We have a lot of tourists in town here, business people who need to go at once," said Christiane, an employee at the Doubletree Hotel. "So I think it would be a good idea if we have more support and more vehicles."

Hearing things like that, Kohlman says he's hopeful the commission will side with him.

"I'm confident that after the hearing is over, we'll have the license to begin operation," said Kohlman.

Kohlman says if he gets the license, his business "K2 Taxi" would be up and running within six to ten weeks.

Kohlman says if you would like to share your comments about taxi service in the Grand Valley or how you feel about him opening a new business, you can email him at k2taxi@bresnan.net


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