Ex-Floridian hits road with new taxi service | PostIndependent.com

Ex-Floridian hits road with new taxi service

by Lynn Burton
Post Independent Staff

Here are a few things the general public might not know about starting a one-person taxi company in Glenwood Springs, Colorado:

– Annual car insurance will run $5,000 per year.

– The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) permit approval process will take about eight months.

– The taxi owner/driv-er/accountant/advertising director/maintenance mechanic will be on call 24 hours a day.

“I’m like a fireman, ready to go at a moment’s notice,” said Mike Murrell, owner of Valley Taxi. “I’ve got to have my shoes ready to put on.”

Murrell, 50, put his 1993 four-door Oldsmobile taxi on the road in early October. His PUC permit allows him to pick up and drop off riders within a 10-mile radius of the intersection of Highway 82 and Interstate 70. The permit also allows him to drop off riders up to 30 miles away from Glenwood Springs.

Why can’t Murrell also pick up riders 30 miles away from Glenwood Springs?

“The PUC controls areas,” Murrell said. “If I were allowed to pick up in Aspen, it might interfere with the taxi company there.”

For now, the 10-mile pickup and drop-off radius is fine with Murrell. “You can’t spread yourself too thin, especially if you’re one guy with one car,” he said. “I want to give Glenwood good service. If I say I’ll be there in 10 or 15 minutes, I’ll be there in 10 or 15 minutes.”

Murrell is a friendly and articulate businessman, with a close-cropped gray beard and short graying hair that reminds one of Ernest Hemingway. On Thursday, he dressed in a print shirt festooned with Florida game fish, and took a few minutes to sample the banana cream pie at Village Inn restaurant.

Murrell moved to Glenwood from Key West, Fla., earlier this year, and has worked in and visited Aspen since 1972. In Florida, he’s been a boat captain and charter boat owner, blackjack dealer, and security guard company co-owner with his father, and “dabbled in real estate.” He also collects and sells Honda Gold Wing motorcycles from the years 1975-1977.

“They were ahead of their time, and are good bikes,” he said between bites of pie. “Some of them are starting to go back up in value.”

Murrell drove for High Mountain Taxi in Aspen off and on for the past three years, and figured Glenwood Springs needed its own cab company.

“The way the community and valley corridor is growing, I decided this was a pretty good spot, and there was enough business to support a cab or two. Hopefully, I’ll grow with the valley.”

To get the word out for Valley Taxi before he hit the road, Murrell printed up yellow and black business cards with his telephone number in big numbers across the bottom ” 945-4111. He then placed 100 business card racks around town at hotels and motels, the bus station and other locations.

“It seems to be working,” he said.

A lot of Murrell’s riders are tourists, and he takes them from the train station to hotels and restaurants. He asks riders how the food was at restaurants so he can recommend them to others. “Overall, everyone loves all the restaurants here,” he said. “I haven’t heard a bad critique from anyone.”

The folks of Glenwood Springs are good, too.

“People here are super nice,” he said. “Everyone I’ve met wishes me well.”

Murrell appreciates Glenwood’s rich history, with its well-documented visits from Doc Holliday, Al Capone, Teddy Roosevelt and Tom Mix. He’s learned a lot about Glenwood’s past from wall displays at the Hotel Colorado.

“That’s a great hotel,” he said. “It’s the jewel of Glenwood Springs.”

Murrell said the PUC made his fare structure a little more complicated than it has to be, but it’s “pretty much” $2 per mile, with extra charges for extra baggage. He laughs when riders ask if he’s the cab owner before they decide to give him a tip.

“Absolutely,” he said.

So far, Murrell’s slowest day brought in $5 in fares, and his best day $200.

“Right now, a good day would be $100,” he said.

Murrell said he’d like to expand Valley Taxi to five or six cabs if business builds in years to come. He might also split his time between Valley Taxi and his charter boat business in Florida.

As for right now, he said, “I’m here to stay. Unless my boats sink or there’s an illness in the family, I’m sticking around.”

Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534


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