Second cab company rolls into city

Kevan Kohlman, left, opened his K2 Taxi service for business June 10. His 15 employees include driver Freddie Gonzales, right. The company picks up fares in Grand Junction and delivers them anywhere in Mesa County. Kohlman says it took him three years to get through the red tape required to start his company.

Grand Junction has been a one-taxi-company town for 20 years.

That changed eight days ago when K2 Taxi started taking passengers.

It took K2 Operations Manager Kevan Kohlman three years to open the Grand Valley’s first competitor to Sunshine Taxi.

First, he had to get approval from the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. And to do that, he had to prove there was a need for taxi competition in Grand Junction.

State statute requires entrepreneurs in the Denver metro area to prove they’re fiscally fit to open a taxi company.

People who want to open a cab operation outside that area in a county with more than 70,000 people have to prove their financial prowess as well as the benefit that would result from having another cab company in town.

The idea behind the regulatory differences is to allow smaller areas to have adequate access to public transportation without overloading cities with more taxi companies than they can support, according to Public Utilities Commission spokesman Terry Bote.

“We can allow another business to come in there, but if neither can survive, it’s the public ultimately that is harmed by that,” Bote said.

Kohlman talked to local hotels, restaurants, bars, assisted-living centers, grocery stores, Greyhound, Amtrak and Grand Junction Regional Airport and found many business owners and cab clients wanted to decrease wait times and have more options for taxi service.

In November 2009, a judge noted those statements and recommended Kohlman be able to start K2 at 1150 N. 25th St.

Kohlman said it took another nine months for him to get a permit number for the company, after Sunshine filed an appeal to the judge’s recommendation.

Sunshine Taxi did not immediately respond to a call for comment Friday.

As a result of the appeal, the commission decided to limit where K2 can pick up clients to places within Grand Junction city limits.

K2 can, however, drop clients off anywhere in Mesa County.

Kohlman said he is trying to appeal that decision.

Eventually, Kohlman wants to have 30 employees, but for now the company has nine drivers and three lime-green cabs with two more on the way.

Kohlman said he painted his cars in a bright shade to attract customers, but he hopes the way employees treat customers will stir up even more business.

“I want reliable, friendly, trustworthy customer service,” Kohlman said.

That includes allowing people to hail one of the cabs when possible, instead of calling ahead. Those who do want to book ahead can call 242-GOK2.


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