DENVER -- At any given time, 125 taxis are waiting at DIA’s holding area, since only 10 taxis at a time are being allowed to go to the terminal to pick up passengers. Since the terrorist attacks on 9/11, drivers are prohibited from waiting in line on the ground transportation level, causing a glut in the waiting area just south of the terminal.
Taxi drivers say there’s not enough space in the waiting area so they have to circle the airport. When they park and wait, the holding area has very poor bathroom facilities. If the lot overflows, taxi drivers are handed tickets for illegal parking.
Taxi drivers say they are being harassed by DIA officials and airport police. They get so backed up in the commercial holding lot, where drivers can wait up to four hours for a fare, that they often end up getting fined.
The bottom line, drivers say, is that there are too many taxis and too few fares. They want the city to do something about it, including placing a moratorium on taxi driver licenses granted by the city.
“We don't get the business travelers that we used to before 9/11, but we still have the same amount of taxis out here. They haven’t reduced it at all. We’d like to be able to make a living without having to work 16-18 hours a day,” said Yellow Cab driver Mulugata Teklehaimanot.
“They treat us very bad and every time we come out here they give us
$60 tickets, $80 tickets,” said another driver.
“I feel very comfortable that we’re going to be able to work out a compromise and improve their situation at the airport, improve the quality of service to people. This is a classic case. I think people are kind of at right angles, and with a little bit of listening and a little bit of adjusting, we can make everyone happy,” said Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper.
Hickenlooper’s administration has met with representatives from the taxi, limousine and bus companies to discuss possible solutions.
Besides limiting the number of taxi licenses, other suggestions include limiting drivers to alternate days at the airport or making it tougher to get security clearance.
Some council members don’t believe the city should restrict free trade, and say intervening in the business by limiting the number of taxis on the street is not beneficial to the consumer.