Lost bid prompts taxi company to sue county
EAGLE A local taxi company is suing Eagle County about the way the firm has been treated at the Eagle County Airport.In a lawsuit filed this week in District Court in Eagle, Vail Valley Taxi claims the county improperly awarded a lease for counter space at the airport’s passenger terminal, and is asking for another opportunity to bid for a lease on that space.
Counter space at the terminal is limited, and valuable. The taxi company now leasing the space, Hy Mountain Transportation of Aspen, pays more than $30,000 per year for it. Vail Valley Taxi co-owners Cheryl Emmeluth and Dan Booz were among four companies that bid for space in the terminal in 2004. The leases – which were awarded to Colorado Mountain Express and Hy Mountain – were to run for three years.Vail Valley Taxi submitted the lowest bid for that space, said Eagle County Attorney Bryan Treu.But Emmeluth and Booz claim that their firm was the only taxi company that met the bid requirements, based on their operating license from the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.The reason the traveling public should care about any of this is service, Emmeluth said.”The bottom line is we’re the only taxi company with authority to go out of the county,” Emmeluth said. That authority was included in the county’s requests for bids, the suit claims.According to Terry Bodie of the Public Utilities Commission, Hy Mountain’s state license only allows the company to take passengers a limited distance – essentially to Parachute or the top of Vail Pass – if they’ve been picked up at the airport in Gypsum, The company can take a rider anywhere in the state if he’s picked up within a few miles of downtown Aspen or Glenwood Springs. “If United Express can’t get into Eagle because of weather, who goes to Denver? We do,” Emmeluth said.Not having a counter at the airport also makes it more difficult to get walk-up business from travelers because of airport regulations, Emmeluth said. And, Booz said, perhaps half of all the people who fly into the airport come without a ride to their rooms.”It’s like any other airport,” Emmeluth said. “People expect there to be taxis.”County officials haven’t yet been formally notified of the suit, so there’s no response yet. But after looking at a copy of the complaint, Eagle County Attorney Bryan Treu said he’s unimpressed.”From what I’ve seen, I’m not very persuaded,” Treu said. “Obviously we disagree with the allegations. It looks like they’re trying to make up for a bad bid last year.”Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14624, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail Daily, Vail Colorado