Sep 182002
Authors: Christin Nirsch

There is only one taxicab business in Fort Collins, and their offices are in Windsor.

“When people ask me to call a cab, they have to wait at least an hour or two,” said Jason Fisher, bartender at the Cooper Crier. “From my experience as a bartender, nine out of ten people are not willing to wait that long.”

The lack of taxicabs in Fort Collins is partially because insurance for taxicabs is very high. Shamrock Yellow Cab, the only cab company in Fort Collins, cannot afford to have more cabs available on weekends and weeknights if the extra cabs do not receive enough business on weekdays, said Gary Gramlick, a rate financial analyst at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. Although Shamrock keeps cabs permanently in Fort Collins, the company is based in Windsor.

Some people believe the shortage of taxicabs in the city during weekends and nights promotes drunk driving. Last year, 109 people were arrested for driving under the influence in Fort Collins.

“I have witnessed many times when people drove home drunk because they didn’t want to wait over an hour for a cab,” said Autumn Kehl, a bartender at Zydeco’s.

It is very difficult for another taxicab company to start a business in Fort Collins because the applicant must prove in court that the existing company is inadequate and there is a need for more taxis, Gramlick said. Additional taxicab companies have applied to operate here in the past; however, there was not enough public support.

On the other hand, some people do not think the lack of taxis in the area affects the number of drunk drivers.

“People are going to drink and drive no matter what,” said Preston Lindbeck, a senior majoring in English.

There is also a theory some shared that there is one taxicab business so more people will drive home intoxicated and the city will make a larger profit from DUI’s.

The fine for one DUI is usually about $500, according to the Deputy Clerk at the Larimer Combined Court. The fine is a combination of criminal fees. These fees include the cost of a breath or blood test, and money for the Law Enforcement Assistant Fund, which compensates the families of law officers who have been injured or killed in the line of duty.

The fee also pays for an alcohol/drug evaluation cost, which designates what educational classes to take. This fee may be waived if the individual is a non-resident. Up to $120 goes towards useful public service and anywhere from $25 to $500 is the persistent drunk driver surcharge, which pays for programs to deter persistent drunk drivers.

Jim Lenderts, a DUI enforcement officer for the Fort Collins Police Services, said a theory that police profit from DUIs is the opposite of the truth. He said FCPS does not receive money for DUI arrests and actually loses money because of DUIs. Lenderts suggested students use any alternative transportation possible before they drink and drive.

There are a few other transportation services that also run late at night and on the weekends besides Shamrock.

The Transfort transportation service offers “NightLITe,” a route that operates until 2:30 in the morning, on Friday and Saturday during CSU sessions. It is free for students with an activity card and costs $1 for non-students.

Limo Around Town began in March and offers rides for people who may be to drunk to drive. It runs from Wednesday to Saturday nights, from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. The wait for a ride is generally less than 30 minutes, depending on the number of people who call. The rides are free and tips are optional.

Also, fraternities and sororities have designated drivers for those who are members.

Bob Chaffee, captain of the CSU Police Department, also urged students to use alternate transportation.

“I hope students will be responsible and find a ride home when they are too drunk to drive so they won’t be a newspaper headline the next day,” Chaffee said.

The manager of Shamrock Yellow Cab could not be reached for comments, although it was attempted several times.

Shamrock Yellow Cab: (970) 686-5555, Transfort information: (970) 221-6620, Limo Around Town: (970) 218-4146

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