When Ryan Patterson needs a taxi, he turns to Idaho Falls-based SafeRide.
“I’ve got the number for SafeRide saved in my phone,” Patterson said. “If I’ve been out to a bar and need a ride, or need to go to the airport or something, I always call them. The cabs are comfortable and clean, which is great. A lot of times when you think of taxi cabs, you picture something dirty and dingy. But that’s not how SafeRide is.”
Irven Hill started SafeRide Taxi five years ago as a part-time business. Today, it runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The taxi service employs nine drivers, who work 10-hour shifts. Although based in Idaho Falls, SafeRide also serves the surrounding area.
“It’s not unusual for our drivers to make trips to Victor, Swan Valley or even go to Jackson, Wyo.,” Hill said.
SafeRide is one of five licensed taxi companies in Idaho Falls. Every year, each company’s fleet of taxis undergoes an inspection. The companies also must have up-to-date liability insurance coverage.
At SafeRide, Hill said drivers in the city must pass an FBI background check and register with the city. A special license is not required to drive a taxi, Hill said.
Although the business is competitive, Hill relishes the challenge.
“It is very competitive, but I’m a competitive person,” he said. “Competition is better in the long run; it makes us focus on doing the best business that we can.”
SafeRide’s fleet features four taxis and a shuttle bus. The bus, which is used every year during Beer Fest, also is available for group charters.
For trips in Idaho Falls, SafeRide charges a flat rate of $10. Out-of-town rates depend on destination and length of time. In Idaho Falls, Hill said each taxi company sets its own rates.
The inspiration for SafeRide was Hill’s grandfather.
“My grandpa drove a taxi in town,” Hill said. “I told him that he should start up his own company, but he wasn’t too interested in that idea. I thought about it more and after a while, decided I’d do it.”
While SafeRide stays busy throughout the year, Hill said its clientele changes with the seasons.
“During the summer we get a lot of travelers coming through. We make a lot of runs to the airport; take people up to Jackson (Wyo.) and things like that. In winter, we’re doing a lot more trips in the city, picking people up from bars or running them across town. We also do have some people calling who are going up to Island Park during the winter.”
Occasionally, the company receives calls that are a bit out of the ordinary, Hill said.
“A while ago, we got a call from the Madison County Jail. They had an inmate who was being released and needed to get to Arco. So, we drove out there, picked him up and took him to Arco. Before I got into the business, I didn’t realize you’d be getting calls like that or calls to go to Jackson or Swan Valley.”
The best part of the business, Hill said, is getting to meet a variety of people.
“I love being able to drive and meeting people from around the world,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun getting to talk to people from Europe or Asia or even just different parts of the country. I like getting to know them and hearing about what they’re doing.”
Nathan Davis can be reached at 542-6762.