Letter: Undercut by the city
I drove a taxi in Aspen for Mellow Yellow Taxi from about 1978 to 1988. When tourists or locals needed to move about town or go to the airport, Snowmass, downvalley or even to Denver, Mellow Yellow was always there and did a great job. We had more than 50 cabs at our peak and working in the winter. When High Mountain Taxi moved in, it was, to be honest, quite annoying as there really wasn’t enough business for two companies. The argument was there would be more competition and therefore better prices. However, that did not work out as we were actually cheaper than High Mountain Taxi, so costs actually went up. Also, being regulated by the Public Utilities Commission made it very difficult to get a rate increase, and we went for years sometimes not being able to raise our fares even as expenses rose. Being an owner-operator of your own taxi is difficult work as driving can be horrific in bad weather and the expenses to keep a vehicle running from daily abuse can be very high.
I believe it is absolutely inexcusable that the city of Aspen would stick a knife into the cab drivers, who have worked so hard, by offering this free service around town. Forget about the fact they didn’t even talk to the owner of High Mountain Taxi, which is just plain rude. Perhaps something could have been worked out with the owner of High Mountain Taxi instead of bringing in some company from out of state. Is this how you treat a business, the taxi business, that has been working diligently in Aspen for many, many years? The city is so proud to say it is creating jobs while screwing over cab drivers. If the city does this year-round, then I’m sure you would like the taxi drivers to do the crosstown fares during a blizzard when driving is horrible. Take the gravy and give the drivers the crap.
So I say this to all businesses in Aspen: Watch your back. They may decide to open a restaurant or Gucci-type store.
Steven L. Cahn
St. Marys, Georgia