By Mark Waite
Pahrump residents who lack transportation, can’t rely on friends or family and need a ride somewhere have been, well, SOL the past few days.
Pahrump Valley Taxi, the only taxi company in town, stopped operating, while the owner, Jit Mann, rehires more drivers.
Calls to the phone number for Pahrump Valley Taxi Monday, 727-8294, came up with this message: “You’ve reached the office of Pahrump Valley Taxi. If you need a taxi, please hang up and dial 727-8294. Thank you.”
Ironically that’s the same number in the phone book potential passengers just dialed. It’s not possible to leave a message either as the voicemail message ends, “Sorry that mail box is full. Please call again later.”
On Tuesday morning, the phone just rang and nobody answered.
A phone call to a business number for Pahrump Valley Taxi was answered by a woman who said “Pahrump Valley Taxi” when she picked up the phone. The woman, apparently a dispatcher, said she couldn’t comment on the situation. But she said of the taxi service, “it’s not in operation right now.”
Mann, who shut down the taxi service once before for about a month in June 2011 for a restructuring, said only, “it is not closed down. We are rehiring the drivers.”
Mann said his taxi business is a public service. But he said “sometimes people try to take advantage.”
He declined to be interviewed any further.
Marilyn Skibinski, a spokesman for the Nevada Transportation Authority, which licenses taxicab companies, said Mann didn’t file an application to transfer his Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity which is required to operate a taxi service, to another owner or file an application for a voluntary cancellation. Mann is supposed to operate the taxi service until those certificates are approved, she said.
Skibinski said the Nevada Transportation Authority received complaints from drivers about not getting paid. She said her agency doesn’t get involved in those disputes.
“In talking to the owner, he has no plans of closing and not providing the service,” Skibinski said.
Don McIntosh, the transportation director for the Pahrump Senior Center, said he received a few calls Monday from people complaining about the lack of taxi service and asking him whether he could send a bus to pick them up.
“They said that the Pahrump Valley Taxi was no longer running and they had doctor’s appointments and no way to do their banking and other different chores, errands that they had to run, they had no way of getting there,” he said.
He added that he too had heard rumors of drivers quitting over not being paid.
“Evidently the drivers are not being paid and they refuse to work, so I don’t blame them. That’s what I heard,” McIntosh said. “I’ve had a couple calls in regard to transportation needs from individuals in Pahrump and I told them I would accommodate them the best that I could. Naturally, the seniors come first. My services are for people 60 years of age and over. If the person is under 60, I can charge them a fee. I haven’t established a fee at this time.”
Mann, the owner of the former Dylan’s Dolls strip club on Emery Street in Pahrump, took over Pahrump Valley Taxi in June 2004 from Chuck and Laurie Knight who operated the service for 12 years.
In the alternative, the Community Outreach Transportation Group has been working on a plan for a Pahrump bus system. The last meeting was Jan. 10 at the Nye Communities Coalition building, 1020 E. Wilson St. in the old Manse Elementary School. Their next meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. Feb. 14.
A proposal by the Southern Nevada Transit Coalition for a Pahrump bus system was shot down by Nye County Commissioners in 2009, when Commissioner Lorinda Wichman said she didn’t want the county getting involved in a private business.