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ARCHIVED  July 16, 1999

Greeley taxi firm challenges Shamrock

GREELEY — Late April marked the emergence of a yet another challenger to Shamrock Taxi’s perennial standing as the region’s sole cab company.

On April 30, Calypso Taxi Service filed an application with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to gain permanent authority for cab service in Weld County.

Calypso’s move marks the third bid in half as many years to establish a regional competitor for Shamrock. Fort Collins Taxi, which filed its initial application for authority Jan. 22, 1998, enjoyed limited operation on a temporary authority granted by the PUC for several months before going out of business.

As it did with Fort Collins Taxi, Shamrock has intervened in Calypso’s application to the PUC, citing an insufficient volume of regional business for two cab companies to successfully operate.

Despite all uncertainties, the fledgling company has placed an ad in the McLeodUSA telephone directory, but it remains to be seen whether there will actually be a company running behind the Calypso name when phone books land on doorsteps in fall 1999.

“We had to put an ad in the phonebook because [McLeodUSA] had their deadline. That’s the only thing that I’ve done so far,” reported Tim Stitt, who would run the upstart cab service with his soon-to-be brother-in-law, Mark Trujillo. Calypso’s future balances on a pair of cars and a pivotal July 30 hearing that will likely be rescheduled for August after Shamrock’s June 28 request to vacate and delay.

“For counties with a population of more than 60,000, a new applicant [for authority] must show that there’s a public need for the service,´ said Terry Bote, spokesman for the Colorado PUC. Bote noted that interventions from pre-existing businesses are standard in these cases. “Shamrock has to show that the addition of this company would result in destructive competition.”

“It’s all resting on the PUC. I just don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t grant us the authority to be up here,” Stitt said.

But there may be a reason, and Shamrock owner and president Tom Hofman believes it’s a legitimate one: “There’s just not enough business.”

“Their assumption is that most of our business comes from Fort Collins, but we lost 70 percent of our business with Dial-a-Ride. The only reason our business works is because we can pool everything. It’s a matter of economies of scale. There wouldn’t be enough business in Greeley to support a taxi service.”

The definition of destructive competition in this situation can only be defined by the hearing’s administrative judge, but there are instances where the consumer does not benefit from competition. And Hofman believes this is such an instance: “What generally happens is the rates go up because the pieces of the pie get smaller — that is if both companies are going to survive.”

“It’s not going to be counterproductive for people around here,´ said Stitt, who admits he is frustrated with the delays in PUC proceedings — the hearing has been postponed once already on Shamrock’s request and will likely be vacated a second time. “It’s going to be productive. From my personal experience, I’ve talked to a lot of businesses who say it takes Shamrock an hour to two hours to get up here in Greeley. We’ll be able to get here in five to 15 minutes, and boom, they’re on their way.”

Hofman said the market will not support two taxi companies. “The cab business out west is just not how it is on the East Coast,” he said. People rely on their own private automobile. There were two that tried in Fort Collins in the last year (Crown Taxi was the second after Fort Collins Taxi) and both failed. And Fort Collins is definitely a bigger market than Greeley.”

“I’m just out to give a better service to the customer,´ said Stitt, who may pursue a license for temporary authority if the delays in the current process continue. “I’m not trying to put Shamrock out from here or make them look bad. Greeley’s growing and growing fast. They need their own taxi service.”

GREELEY — Late April marked the emergence of a yet another challenger to Shamrock Taxi’s perennial standing as the region’s sole cab company.

On April 30, Calypso Taxi Service filed an application with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to gain permanent authority for cab service in Weld County.

Calypso’s move marks the third bid in half as many years to establish a regional competitor for Shamrock. Fort Collins Taxi, which filed its initial application for authority Jan. 22, 1998, enjoyed limited operation on a temporary authority granted by the PUC for several months before going out of business.

As it did with Fort…

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