Colder, bigger business for area cabs

A cold front stubbornly stayed over the Great Plains through Monday after arriving Saturday, stalling the engines of cars and freezing the cheeks of the residents of Minot.

While Nathan Heinert, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Bismarck office, said that the cold front should be neutralized by milder Pacific winds blowing in from the west come Thursday, the frigid temperatures have been a boon to Minot cab companies.

“We have been getting an extreme amount of calls today,” said Chris Braun, a manager at Central Cab Company, in an interview midday Monday.

“Extremely busy. We had long distance runs like crazy, people’s cars weren’t working all morning long so everyone was really antsy about getting to work,” said Emily, the operations manager for Central Cab, about her stint dispatching when she got in at 8 a.m. Monday. “It took two of us, three of us, at points to run the office and manage it well. Good thing we have good customers with patience.”

The frustrating sounds of squeeling engines straining across town starting at around 7:30 a.m. would be great evidence to back up her assessment of the busy times.

“It’s often crazy during the winter, more so on the extremely cold days,” Emily said. “In North Dakota our busy season is in the winter because in the summer you can ride bikes and longboard.”

Luckily they didn’t have the added pressure of fulfilling their accounts with schools Monday since school was canceled.

“At normal times we have about five drivers on the road,” Braun said. “But I have nine drivers out there right now.”

“We’ll still be steady,” she said about the hours following the morning rush, “but not an overabundance of calls and then five o’clock will hit and we’ll get the calls again because the people who were at work have to get back home.”

“Usually in the early mornings is when it gets really busy,” said Dave, a manager at TAXI 9000 cab company in an interview.

He said that he has as many drivers out on the road as he can, but that “you can’t really prepare for” events like weather this cold.

As for an evening rush, he wasn’t too sure it would happen.

“I think most people get their vehicles going by business-close time,” he said. “It might be busy, it’s hard to say.”

But the wear and tear on vehicles isn’t just limited to the populace calling in. The cold weather can also affect the cabs themselves.

“We’ve actually got a few mechanics working on them as we speak,” Braun said of the company’s vehicles. “We have people working on them to keep them up.”

The company was also employing extra vans out onto the roads for longer distance calls. Central Cab has a total fleet of 13 cabs, two large shuttle buses, and eight Ford E-350 vans. The larger vans are often used to shuttle oil workers around the area.