A startup taxi company owned by drivers is trying to win approval to launch service in the Denver area but may face an uphill climb.
An administrative-law judge recently denied Mile High Cab's application to operate a fleet of 150 taxis in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson counties.
Judge Paul Gomez wrote that Mile High's entry would harm Denver's existing cab companies economically and "impede the ability of those carriers to provide safe, economical and efficient service."
Mile High this week filed an appeal of the decision with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, which regulates taxi service in the state and will make a final ruling.
There are four cab companies in the Denver area authorized by the commission to operate 1,262 taxis. Gomez agreed with experts for Metro Taxi, Denver's biggest cab company, who concluded Denver's supply of taxis is at or above capacity.
"When a market is at or near capacity, a homogeneous, undifferentiated entrant such as Mile High does not serve the public interest," Gomez wrote.
An attorney for Mile High said its entry would benefit the public. Mile High would charge 25 cents less per mile than two of the existing cab companies, would not charge extra for additional passengers or baggage and would offer superior customer service, said attorney Thomas Russell.
"Competition of another firm is good for the public interest. . . . There's widespread dissatisfaction with cab service in the Denver area," he said. "If there are too many cabs, how come everyone has to wait so long for one?"
In 2008, Colorado lawmakers eased restrictions on new entrants into the regulated taxi market. Companies must prove they have adequate financial and managerial resources, but they no longer have to show a need for their services. Still, new service can be barred if existing taxi operators prove it will be a detriment to the public interest.
The PUC last year allowed Union Taxi to launch service with 220 cabs. Two other startups have applied with the commission to launch service, and Denver Yellow Cab has requested approval to add 150 taxis. The commission has not yet ruled on those requests, spokesman Terry Bote said.
Greg Griffin: 303-954-1241 or ggriffin@denverpost.com