Mile High Cab: Is next stop court after Public Utilities Commission kills application?

The November feature story "Mean Streets" detailed how frustrated taxi drivers, faced with alleged discrimination and abuse have spent years asking the state's Public Utilities Commission to let them launch a company of their own, Mile High Cab. Last week that battle came to an end, with the PUC rejecting Mile High Cab's last-ditch appeal. So the upstart company is down... but not necessarily out.

In January, Mile High Cab filed a final appeal to the PUC, asking officials to reconsider their rejection of the company's application to start operating in the metro area. But last week, the PUC voted that appeal down, reports the cab company's lawyer, Tom Russell. "It was really a foregone conclusion," says Russell.

So what's the next step? According to Russell, the easiest step may be new legislation introduced by Senator Ted Harvey that would loosen taxi-company application rules. However, considering similar legislative attempts in the past have been stonewalled or hobbled by powerful lobbyists working for existing cab companies, Russell knows he and his clients can't put all their eggs in this basket.

That's why they may take the issue to court. The company has thirty days to appeal the PUC's rejection to Denver District Court, if it chooses to do so.

Then again, before that happens, Russell has to make sure his clients are still in it for the long haul. They've already spent years and thousands of dollars on their fight. Are they willing and able to take it much further? "My personal view is, it's important that the PUC is restrained by an actual court of law. But that is not my decision to make; it's the Mile High board's decision," says Russell. "The PUC, and the incumbent companies, can wear entrepreneurs like this down."

More from our Follow That Story archive: "Metro Taxi's $10,000 for Hick's inauguration payback for opposing Mile High Cab?" Follow Joel Warner on Twitter @joelmwarner

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner