The November cover story "Mean Streets" revealed allegations of discrimination and abuse at Yellow Cab, the city's oldest taxi company, and detailed how attempts to launch alternative companies have been stymied by Colorado's restrictive taxi regulations. That may change, however, since Senator Ted Harvey just introduced legislation that would strip away many of the requirements facing new cab company applicants.
Under current law, any potential new cab company not only has to prove to the state's Public Utilities Commission that it is operationally and financially fit to provide the service, but also that there's public need for it and that its operation won't prove disastrous for the existing cab companies. Hardly anyone has been able to pass this bar; one can count on one hand the number of new Denver taxi companies in the past sixty years. And the case for potential upstarts was helped when a well-publicized 2008 study funded by the existing cab companies concluded the local market was at capacity -- a finding Westword found was at odds with an earlier, unreleased study conducted by the city.
But if Harvey's bill goes forward, the regulatory landscape could look very different. As it's currently written, the legislation would require a cab company wanting to launch service to prove it is financially and operationally fit (i.e., it has at least fifty cabs available for service, has a dispatch system and a good chunk of change in capitol, etc.). That could prove a boon for the drivers behind Mile High Cab, a company that's been trying to get rolling since September 2008 and recently filed a last-ditch appeal of its PUC rejection.
Of course, that's if Harvey's bill actually gets passed in its current form. Nearly all legislative attempts to revise Colorado's taxi system have been stonewalled or drastically watered down thanks to the powerful lobbying efforts of incumbent taxi companies.
Will Harvey's new bill face the same fate?
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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