Taxi Bill Provokes Big Lobby Money
With hundreds of taxis operating in Denver and Boulder, Veolia Transportation Inc. heavily opposed local legislation that could have given the company more competition.
Government documents show the business spent a total of $19,500 in the March to pay lobbyists and influence a taxi regulation bill.
Veolia Transportation, formerly as Connex Transit Inc, also appears to operate a subsidiary accused of violating state lobbying laws regarding the same legislation. House Bill 1114 would have required the state’s Public Utilities Commission to issue an unlimited number of permits to cab companies who follow certain regulations, making it easier for new businesses to enter the market. Under the current system three companies dominate the industry and regulatory caps limit the number of taxis a company can operate.
The bill was later gutted by the House Transportation and Energy committee and changed to control the weekly rates cab companies charge their drivers instead dealing with permits.
Veolia Transportation, which has been described at one of North America’s largest private transportation providers, acquired the Colorado Cab Company (doing business as Yellow Cab ) in 2005, according to the company’s website.
Just before the legislation was changed by the House committee allegations began to surface that Yellow Cab was paying drivers to call lawmakers to encourage votes against the bill-an action that would most likely be illegal if true.
Colorado Citizens for Ethics in Government, a non-profit and non-partisan group, has also asked Secretary of State Mike Coffman to conduct an immediate investigation of the accusations.
Public records show Veolia Transportation is also in a contract with the City of Denver to operate and sell transportation services to the public at Denver International Airport until May 2009.
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