Changes could come to UND's subsidized taxi service
A subsidized taxi service that UND students depend on to fetch groceries or get sober rides home from the bars came to a screeching halt recently. Through a bizarre series of events, Red White and Blue Taxi Co., the taxi firm with the contract fo...
A subsidized taxi service that UND students depend on to fetch groceries or get sober rides home from the bars came to a screeching halt recently.
Through a bizarre series of events, Red White and Blue Taxi Co., the taxi firm with the contract for the Cab Crawler service, has no taxis available -- crippling one of UND Student Government's best-known services.
"The situation with Red White and Blue is unfortunate and inconvenient from every angle," Student Body President Logan Fletcher said. "This is a vital program, not just on the weekends, but regularly for a large number of UND students who rely on the service for transportation."
The Cab Crawler program, subsidized by student fees, has been around for more than a decade. While popular with students, it's also been criticized by them for inconsistent service. Red White and Blue took over the contract from Nodak Radio Cab Co. in 2008 because students complained about long wait times.
Fletcher found out about Red White and Blue's problems Monday morning after reading a slew of messages from students who couldn't reach the taxi company for a $2 to $3 ride over the weekend.
He soon learned that the company's entire fleet was sidelined for various reasons.
One of the cabs had been rear-ended that weekend and was in need of repairs. Two other cabs had transmissions that failed. A mandatory inspection by the Grand Forks Police Department took another vehicle off the streets.
"They said that one of the cabs had failed the inspection because the horn didn't work," Fletcher said.
And Red White and Blue's operating license has been suspended anyway after it came under new ownership. The Grand Forks City Code requires the new owner to apply for a license with the finance department and have it approved by the City Council.
"Activities are suspended for the time being by management," said new owner Paul Balstad. "Any issues we have are being ironed out."
The Cab Crawler contract gives Student Government the ability to terminate the deal if services are unavailable. Student Government has put Balstad on notice that, if a cab is not available for student use within 10 days of receiving the notice, the contract, which runs through the end of May 2013, may be terminated.
Should it come to that, Student Government plans on pursuing other transportation options, according to Fletcher.
He said the Cab Crawler program has received some criticism from students for inconsistent service from Red White and Blue.
"The most important thing is that students deserve exceptional service because the program is funded by student fees," he said. "Students have not been receiving that lately, and we intend to change that."