By Mark Waite
A spokesman for the cab drivers that worked for Pahrump Valley Taxi Company said the vehicles were in bad condition, a reason all of the drivers quit several days ago, besides allegations the owner was withholding their pay.
The Nevada Transportation Authority will consider a request by Pahrump Valley Taxi owner Jit Mann to discontinue service for six months, until July 29 during a meeting at 9:30 a.m. next Thursday at 2290 S. Jones Dr., Suite 110 in Las Vegas.
NTA spokesman Marilyn Skibinski said, “my understanding is he doesn’t have vehicles now he can operate. That’s why he asked for a temporary discontinuance.”
The NTA will inspect vehicles for a taxi service before the owner reopens the business, she said.
In a prepared statement, former taxi driver Larry Miller said employees were concerned the owner wouldn’t pay them on payday as promised but also had concerns over the condition of the cabs. The report on the vehicles’ conditions was included in their complaint to the NTA, he said.
Miller’s statement reads: “While we were concerned by the fact the owner of the company would not pay us on payday as promised, without warning would hold pay for up to a month for some drivers and the business manager, the more important reasons were the safety issues. We were concerned for the safety of our customers, our safety as drivers. We became alarmed at the illegal nature of our driving vehicles that were not supposed to be driven to transport people as they were the owners’ private vehicles, not approved cabs and had no meters.”
“The drivers were driving vehicles with bald tires, suspensions that were at best marginal to downright dangerous. The transmissions did not work correctly, fumes were entering the passenger compartment and often had no heaters or air-conditioning. The one remaining vehicle that was metered and legal was the handicapped van, which had a faulty ramp that did not have a stop on the end to prevent a wheelchair from rolling off the lift,” Miller said.
Two marked and metered taxis are sitting in a yard that aren’t operational, another vehicle is sitting in a garage because the bill hasn’t been paid, Miller said. The handicapped van is also in the yard because the lift doesn’t work, he said.
Drivers were asked to use the trip odometer on the vehicles if the meters didn’t work, he said, adding two cabs were Mann’s private vehicles, which are illegal to operate as cabs for hire.
While taxi drivers understand the need for transportation in Pahrump, Miller told the Pahrump Valley Times in a follow-up interview, “the vehicles are so bad that we just couldn’t do it any more. So if he repairs his vehicles I doubt if he’ll hire us back anyway. He’s very upset about it, but that’s the way it goes.”
The taxi drivers had regular customers, who they helped bring groceries in and out, he said.
“We were very reluctant to leave the people high and dry. But it finally got to the point we weren’t getting our pay, the cabs were in terrible condition and top of it he wanted to cut back on the money we were paid,” Miller said.
Taxi drivers paid their own fuel then split the fares 50/50 with the company, Miller said. There was talk about the owner taking 60 percent, even 70 percent, he said.
Miller said Mann is reportedly hiring new drivers.
Besides regular runs, Pahrump Valley Taxi provided transportation for patients traveling to medical appointments around town under a contract with Logisticare, Miller said. Veterans were transported to medical appointments in Las Vegas.
Miller was skeptical Mann would be able to continue the taxi service. But he said Pahrump Valley Taxi made money.