New taxi service hopes to bridge Grand County transportation gaps |

New taxi service hopes to bridge Grand County transportation gaps

Some locals don’t bother going out to bars anymore, because of the likelihood they’ll get a DUI. And without a reliable taxi service, finding a safe ride home is a challenge.

Sgt. Brett Schroetlin of the Fraser/Winter Park Police Department constantly sees bar patrons driving away in their cars when they’ve had too much to drink, he said.

Having options would be beneficial.

“I think a local taxi service would definitely be a proactive step towards limiting the number of intoxicated drivers,” Schroetlin said.

Two Fraser Valley residents have decided to tackle the problem head-on by opening up a taxi service that caters to locals.

Valley Taxi, run by Curt Spencer and Matt Lloyd, will be available for service on Nov. 14.

“It’s going to be something the town never had before. We’re focusing on local customers,” Lloyd said, as he sat inside his office in downtown Winter Park. A small paper sign in the window reads “Valley Taxi.”

“People want transportation, and we want to provide it.”

Lloyd and Spencer are leasing their company from Home James, the only locally owned transportation company in Grand County, owned by Jack Van Horn and Roger Hedlund since 1985. Spencer worked for Home James for the past seven years and managed the night taxi service, but it was difficult for Home James to focus solely on a local service, Van Horn said.

“Airport transportation is the majority of our business. Almost all of it,” Van Horn said. “Because of the intensity of that end of the business, at times there were conflicts (between) the local taxi and the airport shuttle. By splitting this off, we can focus on what we do best and they can focus on what they do best.”

Van Horn commended the two men for taking on the new service, which they will lease for one year, with an option to buy.

“This creates a win-win situation for bar patrons, locals and guests, as well as getting service late at night,” he said.

Spencer and Lloyd will hold fundraisers for their company, but they also plan to seek subsidies from towns and local businesses. Most mountain communities with public transit systems are supported financially through federal dollars and other outside sources. The two business owners know they can’t do it alone, especially if they want to expand their hours and service throughout the county.

“Towns, businesses and the local community sorta need to help us out to make it economically feasible,” Spencer said. “We need to come together to make this work.”

Driving employees back and forth to their jobs is another service Valley Taxi plans to provide. Lloyd and Spencer welcome feedback from residents who need a ride to work, so they can better set the schedule for a regular shuttle system.

They plan to provide service throughout the county, and offer discounted rates.

This is welcomed news for Cindy Harder, who is an employment specialist for Grand County’s Colorado Workforce. Harder hears about the transportation problem from both ends ” the employee and the employer. It is a common problem.

“The complaint we hear the most is the fact that there’s no transportation for people to get from one place to another,” Harder said.

Harder said a transportation service will only work as long as people utilize it. With three vans and eight to nine drivers, Valley Taxi has a ways to go before it reaches its desired goal, which is to provide transportation 365 days a year, around the clock, across the county.

Lloyd and Spencer realize that won’t happen overnight, but they have the energy ” and some new ideas that they hope will build a bigger local clientele.

“We’re longtime locals up here. We want to focus this business on the locals,” Spencer said. “Without locals, we don’t have a year-round business.”

For instance, Valley Taxi plans to provide a punch card at a discounted rate, so locals can prepay for shuttle service. That way, when someone is at a bar and they have a punch-card in their pocket, they’ll have more of an incentive not to drive, Spencer said. He also suggested discounted rides for customers in the early morning ” after they’ve used their shuttle the night before ” to get back to their cars.

A full-time taxi service may have prevented Fraser resident Kris Knippert from receiving a DUI at Spring Splash this year, he said. He now must attend an alcohol therapy class every week for eight months, and pay roughly $4,000 in fines. At his classes, he hears countless stories from others who’ve had similar experiences.

“There’s so many people in my class that complain about not having a taxi service when you need one. And they only run when it’s busy, and it’s hard to get them on the phone,” Knippert said. “I think it would be awesome to have a late night taxi service.”

Valley Taxi is located behind the Winter Park Pub in Winter Park. For service (Nov. 14) or more information call (970) 726-4940.

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