Montana PSC lets Green Taxi take passengers to doctor

2013-04-16T04:45:00Z 2013-04-16T04:58:18Z Montana PSC lets Green Taxi take passengers to doctor missoulian.com

Green Taxi got approval Monday from the Montana Public Service Commission to carry Missoula residents to the doctor and other medical appointments.

“So many people just helped make this all come together, and the right decision prevailed because it was just so obvious to me that this was something that was so needed,” said Jessica Murray, co-owner of Green Taxi.

In a 5-0 vote, however, the all-Republican commission also denied the company’s request to operate its cabs in Flathead, Yellowstone, Lake and Ravalli counties.

The Public Service Commission regulates utilities in Montana, including private transportation services.

The PSC originally prohibited Green Taxi from taking riders to regular medical appointments that weren’t emergencies, but in its fourth year of operation, the company asked commissioners for the authority to carry those passengers.

At a hearing in Missoula, many witnesses testified they couldn’t get to doctors’ appointments on time – or sometimes at all – using existing cab services.

“This decision is in response to the people of Missoula who rely on taxis to get to medical appointments,” said Commissioner Bob Lake, whose district represents Missoula. “It just increases their options.”

Commissioner Travis Kavulla wrote the proposed order, which the commission adopted. Kavulla said the decision isn’t just good news for the applicant, it’s significant for other entrepreneurs who want to get involved in the cab business.

“We’ve sort of said, for the first time, that competition is presumed to be in the public interest, which is certainly a departure from how the law on motor carriers often works,” Kavulla said.

Murray, with Green Taxi, said she hopes the company sees a growth in business as it begins to fill the medical niche: “We were hoping to have a whole car dedicated just to the medical piece. We want to fill that void.”

Yellow Cab and Medicab also carry medical passengers, and they and Valet Limousine opposed Green Taxi’s request.

According to a news release, Green Taxi has 30 days to complete paperwork with the agency; once complete, the company may begin its expanded service.

“No changes in rates are permitted at this time,” the release states.

Reach Keila Szpaller at @keilaszpaller, at keila.szpaller@missoulian.com or at (406) 523-5262.

Copyright 2015 missoulian.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(5) Comments

  1. GaryTinkSanders
    Report Abuse
    GaryTinkSanders - April 16, 2013 4:03 pm
    There are some old adages that come to mind after reading your comment but instead of saying them I would prefer that you educate yourself on what you say and not jump to conclusions. Obama signed "The Monsanto Protection Act" into law, not Republicans. The Food Democracy Now and the Center for Food Safety are directing blame at the Senate Appropriations Committee and its chairman, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. Here is a link http://www.salon.com/2013/03/27/how_the_monsanto_protection_act_snuck_into_law/
    I believe no corporations should have prosecutorial immunity, all corporate entities should be accountable for their actions.
  2. Alan Johnson
    Report Abuse
    Alan Johnson - April 16, 2013 3:37 pm
    An all-Republican PSC decides unanimously deny a cab company the right to compete for other customers in Western Montana? It looks like the GOP just gives lip service to "free markets."
  3. open mind
    Report Abuse
    open mind - April 16, 2013 12:10 pm
    I had the opportunity to hear Bob Lake talking about the PSC on a right wing radio show a couple of months ago. He was really upfront about how certain companies are able to "make sizable investments" in their permits, which then guarantees their market. What other industry in this free market society we live in has the opportunity to buy a guaranteed market from a government entity? Maybe the utilities industry? Wait, isn't that what the PSC really there for? Why is there no recourse to monitor the PSC? The whole commission needs to be revamped. Talk about big brother.
  4. DoItRight
    Report Abuse
    DoItRight - April 16, 2013 7:47 am
    I imagine that you have been around long enough to see that, despite what they may shout, Republicans LOVE big government.

    But only when they can profit from it, which is quite often.

    The reason the tax laws are so convoluted, that we go to war (and see huge war profits), have massive regulations for any government project, endless loopholes in every law, laws that protect only one company (the Monsanto Protection Act). This is big government at its best, doing the bidding for the corporate elite by way of the Republicans.
  5. Bones
    Report Abuse
    Bones - April 15, 2013 9:25 pm
    This is so communist.

    The idea that five Republicans support a status quo that limits competition, thus guaranteeing the highest prices for the worst service, is ludicrous.

    Regulation to limit competition is only sensible when market entry into a service carries such high costs that a guaranteed monopoly is the only effective incentive to bring a providing firm into the community. Phone companies, cable providers, etc can receive a guaranteed return on an otherwise risky and costly investment by obtaining exclusive contracts through independent developers. How can the PSC justify preventing market entry for a service without astronomical (high, but not unduly so) entry costs for an entire county? Or several counties?
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