Fares Bring Up Competiton

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JEFFERSON CITY - Jefferson City's finance director approved an increase Wednesday for fares for the city's only taxi company.  But the public hearing about the issue raised questions about the lack of competition.  One new Columbia cab owner said there is not enough competition to provide good taxi service in Jefferson City.

Alan Cooper is originally from Jefferson City and moved back to town to be closer to his family.  Unable to start a cab company in Jefferson City, he started a company called "Taxi" in Columbia two weeks ago.  Cooper said Jefferson City's only having one cab company makes it more difficult and expensive for cab riders.  He said competition is never a bad thing in business.

Jefferson City has a population of 43,079 with only Checker Cab providing taxi service.  Columbia has a population of 108,500 and nine taxi services listed in the phone book.

Checker Cab owner Tom Landwehr says the diffence between Jefferson City's cab business and Columbia's taxis is Jefferson City is regulated.  That means the taxi businesses must meet certain equipment and business standards in order to stay open.  He also added he doesn't believe that another taxi business could survive in Jefferson City.  "My little taxi company has never made me my living."

Jefferson City Finance Director Steve Schlueter said he had hoped the public hearing on the fare increase had been better attended to get a feel of how taxis are used in Jefferson City.  He said he approved the increase based on an increase in maintance costs and high gas prices.