Colorado could let city taxi cabs operate more like Uber

Author: Joey Bunch - April 5, 2018 - Updated: April 12, 2018

taxi(Photo by Petar Milošević, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

DENVER — Colorado lawmakers are working on legislation that would let city taxi cab companies compete on prices with Uber and Lyft.

House Bill 1320 would deregulate cab pricing and other aspects of the business, without taking away requirements for permitting, safe vehicles, background checks for drivers and other consumer protections, says its sponsor, Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver.

“The taxicab industry needs to compete with the current market, and the current market has changed a lot over the last five years,” he told the House Transportation and Energy Committee Wednesday afternoon.

Currently the PUC sets rates on fares, but the deregulation bill would lift that.

While taxis could engage in peak period pricing, such as on New Year’s Eve when they are in high demand, most often they would lower their prices to compete with internet-based car services, Pabon said.

“Right now it’s pretty obvious which one you’re going to pick if you’re picking on price only,” he said.

The bill would apply to Colorado counties with a population of more than 70,000 — so 11 counties and seven cab companies, according to legislative researchers.

Several cab drivers and company owners said they didn’t support the change. because it would make it easier for more people to get into the taxi business and also because of the instability it would bring to chaotic pricing.

Robert McBride, who owns Metro Taxi, however, supports the deregulation.

“It gives us hope to try to survive in a very tough market,” he said.

His son Sean McBride, the company’s vice president, said private drivers don’t have the overhead or regulations that are on cab companies. “I think we need the ability to compete with them on their level, and I think this bill opens up that opportunity,” he said.

Cab company operators talked about the reliability and safety of their companies versus competitors. Making the market more competitive in their favor will eventually lead to new services such as having the same designated driver pick up children at home or school and deliver them to after-school events.

Pabon said Colorado needs to preserve and promote a range of transportation options, including ride-sharing services, for residents and tourists, “so we can genuinely say Colorado has an all-of-the-above approach to providing for not just moving of cars but moving of people.”

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.