Riders in Montrose left at curb as cab company closes today
The taxi business on the Western Slope has been traveling a bumpy road.
Business is so bad in Montrose that the only cab company in the city is closing today.
“This Sunday evening, May 31, 9 p.m., we will close our doors,” said Larry Braden, operations manager of Montrose Taxi. “The whole company, from the drivers all the way to the CEO (his wife Pattie Jo Braden), did everything we possibly could to stay in business as long as we could. The demise was slow and painful. We are sorry for the community that we have dropped out, but it was beyond our control.”
The company was sold Friday to All Points Transportation, a senior transportation provider. The new company is expected to begin service this week.
“They are getting it for a third of what it is worth,” Braden said.
Business was down 50 percent, said Braden, who has been in the taxi business 19 years and has owned the Montrose cab company with his wife for the past four years.
Last year, the company was rolling with four cars and nine employees. In its last week, it had two cars and eight employees.
“At our peak, I would say a year ago, we were doing around 90 trips per day. I would say we are down to 40 to 50 trips a day now,” he said.
Service to and from bars and nightclubs in the evening is holding strong, but other trips, such as to the airport or driving seniors to the grocery store or to doctors appointments, have fallen off dramatically, he said.
“Around last Thanksgiving we were starting to notice a decline, and we did everything we could in marketing and being efficient,” Braden said. “Since last Thanksgiving, we have dropped 30 percent. ... The main factor was the economy.”
Braden said he won’t be retiring.
“I might turn around and drive for one of the companies,” he said.
In Grand Junction, Sunshine Taxi Co. is feeling the weight of the economy but has no plans to close or lay off employees, said Jim Horton, 55, office manager.
“We have noticed a little bit of a decrease, but at this point in time we don’t plan on doing anything different. We are still maintaining 12, 13 cars on the road,” Horton said.
Drivers from both companies are being hit hard.
“Taxi drivers are the only job in the world where they pay to go to work,” Horton said. “It is a commission- and a tip-type thing.”
The drivers pay to lease the car, and whatever they make beyond the daily lease amount is theirs to keep.
Horton said his business usually picks up around midsummer, and he is anxious to see if this year will follow that traditional pattern.