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For bike taxis, see pedicabs

Taxi rates among cabs in Chico are very competitive due to having so many companies. In fact, they are some of the cheapest cab rates in the entire country. See also Driving in Chico and Transportation

Taxi companies

Taxi companies are regulated by the City of Chico, and the Public Utilities Commission. The vehicles are inspected regularly, and a $1million insurance policy is required. These companies maintain the leased vehicles and offer dispatch services. Drivers are not employees of the taxi leasing company, they are self-employed under a private contract. Most cab companies in Chico have a twelve hour 6 to 6 shift for the day and night shifts.

Taxi Services

Former Taxi Companies

Taxi drivers

Taxi drivers are required to have a "Driver for Hire" permit issued by the Chico Police Department.

Some drivers lease their vehicle per night or per week, and some are "owner/operators". The lease drivers pay a lease on vehicles, and pay for gas. They recieve calls from the dispatcher on a first-come first-served rotating basis. The owner/operators own their own vehicle, and only pay for dispatch services. However, owner/operators are responsible for the maintenance of their own vehicle.

  • Taxi drivers get a lot of no-shows. Anything that tells them that you might not be there increases your chance that you will not get one sent at all.
  • Taxi drivers are always very busy. If you have a cab waiting for you, do not "dilly-dally", but rather be mindful of the driver's time. Drivers really do need to manage their time, and keep things moving along. There are not an infinite number of taxis in Chico, like in some larger cities. Usually, if you are in a taxi there is someone else waiting for it.
  • Taxi drivers deal with a lot of hassles. Anything that involves more than a trip from point A to point B and immediate payment in cash can get to be a hassle for a driver pretty quickly. If you are angry at a cab driver for some reason ... get in line!

Tips for getting a taxi

  • Wait patiently. This is the number one tip and you should probably re-read it rather than skip it.
  • Figure out where you are before you call the taxi. Taxi dispatchers are very busy and don't have time to hear for the millionth time: "Yeah, I need a taxi... um, hold on a minute...<muffled>Where are we? ... fix#th ^n @hafnut ... where? ... </muffled>"
  • Wait for your cab in a low traffic area. If you are surrounded by dozens of people crazily flagging a cab on the Main Street Strip, you should consider moving to where there will be no confusion as to whose cab it is, and then call. Otherwise wait patiently, if it is busy that means that eventually a cab will come through for you.
  • Never tell the dispatcher that you are going to "just be on the corner" or "out in front of the apartment complex." Always take the time to find out a particular address and apartment number. Corner calls are a low priority because people generally are not there when the taxis get there. Also without a particular door to knock on, the driver has no good clue to find you. They will have to use their horn, disturbing the neighbors.
  • If you tell the dispatcher that you are in a hurry, that tells them that you will probably not be there when the taxi arrives, and therefore you are a low priority. This is especially true of people who promise a big tip to get there fast.
  • Do not call more than one taxi. The taxi you called may be on the way to you from all the way across town. Do not waste their time at $3.00 a gallon.
  • Do not move from the place from where you called the cab. If you are walking while you are calling the cab you are a low priority. Drivers are much less likely to try to chase someone down who will probably flag some other cab. Go to a place to wait for the cab and stay there.
  • Make your plan before 1:30am or be prepared to wait.

Taking a cab

  • Always tell the driver the destination, rather than try to direct them with "left" "right" and "straight". This is unsafe driving for several reasons.
  • Do not hassle a driver over payment.
  • Do not take a cab through a drive-through restaurant. It is a bad plan for the passenger and the driver. You don't how long the line will be.
  • A big tip is wonderful... as long as the driver doesn't have to hear about the tip the whole drive!
  • The driver is probably already aware of the crack in the windshield.

Taxis

  • By and large, almost all taxis in Chico are former police cars obtained at auction. The most popular model is the Crown Victoria. However, the vehicle is several hundred pounds lighter as a cab, than it is as a police car.
  • Most taxi vans are Safaris or Astros.

History

One of the first automobiles in Chico was a Studebaker used by the Hotel Diamond to shuttle guests to and from the railroad.

Yellow Cab is the oldest known cab company in Chico, existing before 1947, operated by Charles Risher. Risher had also appeared as an archer in The Adventures of Robin Hood, when it was filmed in Chico. At the time Risher boasted the "Smoothest ride in town".

Over the course of the 1990s, Hubert Beaver, the proprietor of American Taxi was able to grow a solid call base by providing a high quality radio dispatched service. American became the prevailing cab company in Chico. This was before there was any regulatory pressure from the city, the IRS, or the EDD, etc. Up until this point Hubert had been able to run American as if the drivers were employees. When a driver picked up a "16" (a passenger flagging a cab off the street), the driver moved to the bottom of the line-up of drivers waiting for calls. Also, American drivers were not allowed to build their own call base using a cell phone. Eventually these practices came to an end after American got in trouble over it.

At the turn of the millennium, there were only three taxi companies in Chico: American Taxi, Yellow Cab, and Chico Independent Taxi, with American being the largest. This was the "hey-day" for cab drivers, when one could expect to clear upwards of forty calls in a shift. At some point several drivers realized that pretty much anyone could get a car out on the road on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night and make money. There were enough people flagging down cabs to sustain them without a large institutional call base, and without a 12 hour shift. The number of companies then proliferated, including several one-man operations.

At some point Hubert decided to sell American to one of the drivers, a woman named Kris Flock. At some point some term of the agreement allowed Hubert to take American back over. The transfer of assets was not a smooth affair. At midnight of a particular Thursday night, the whole American fleet was off the road without insurance, but the American phone number was still active. Kris was making plans to start Chico Cab in response to the situation, and she tried to retain as much of the call base as she could. Then, for a time, the American number was forwarded to Yellow Cab, so as to prevent Liberty from getting those calls. Kris would have to start over from scratch with Chico Cab.

Regulation

The City of Chico has at times considered regulating Taxi ("Vehicle for Hire") fares. The City Council in March of 2007 asked staff to report on cab fares "as compared to other cities". The Internal Affairs Committee recommended that November to not regulate fares as that "such fares continue to be dictated by the free market." The IAC recommendation was accepted by all members of the city council with exception of Steve Bertagna. He was disqualified because of a "business conflict." 1

Footnotes

1. Regular Chico City Council Meeting Minutes, February 5 2008, http://www.chico.ca.us/City_Council/Home_Page.asp