Yellow Cab’s lament 

Driving a cab is no picnic. That was the message from a local taxicab driver who testified at a Public Service Commission (PSC) hearing in Missoula on May 24.

The purpose of the hearing was to take up a protest by two local cab companies to an application by Michael Murray, a Missoula entrepreneur who wants to start a new environmentally friendly taxicab service called Green Taxi. Murray needed to demonstrate the need for additional service, prove the existing company will not or cannot meet that need, and show that the granting of a new license will not harm existing services.

The most lively testimony of the lengthy hearing came from Yellow Cab driver Kevin Sandberg, who did his best to convince Murray and PSC member Doug Mood—who presided over the hearing—that a new taxicab service would not only hurt Yellow Cab’s business but would have a tough time making it in Missoula.

“You guys are going to get overwhelmed,” Sandberg warned Murray. “People are going to want to use you. You have no idea.”

Sandberg, who was not called as a witness, talked for more than 18 minutes, dominating the public comment portion of the hearing. During his often contradictory commentary Sandberg acknowledged that Yellow Cab has trouble meeting the demand for taxis around bar closing times, but said one of the problems with timely pick-ups is customers often change their destination upon the cab’s arrival, or simply aren’t there when the cab shows up. In response to the criticisms of the 20 witnesses who testified against Yellow Cab at the hearing, Sandberg had this to say:

“You people who are out there whining and sniveling because we took an hour [to pick you up]—stop and think about what I’m dealing with.”

In closing Sandberg said if Green Taxi is granted a license, he’ll start looking for a new job, and so he urged Mood to rule in favor of Yellow Cab and deny the license.

“We can supply service to the public. All the criteria you have on that list can be met by Yellow Cab. Of that I have no doubt,” he said.

The PSC has six months from the day of the hearing to rule on Green Taxi’s application.
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