They say it’s easy to find a prostitute if you head out to East Colfax. Since I live on the West side of town, I don’t go out to East Colfax much. But every time I do, I try to see if I can spot the prostitutes…mostly because I want to see a pimp. I always imagine crazy-dressed hookers parading up and down the sidewalks while garish men in leopard-pattern fur coats and bright green top hats observe the scene from their tricked-out Cadillacs. You know, like you see in the movies.

But it’s not really like that on East Colfax. Maybe I’m just always there at the wrong time of day, but I can’t definitively say that I’ve ever seen a prostitute on East Colfax. I certainly can’t every remember seeing a pimp.

I bring this up as a really long and meandering way to say this: It’s still probably easier to find a prostitute on a given night than it is to find a taxi in Denver.

Denver is one of a handful of major cities around the country with all four major professional sports teams, yet you could wait on a street corner for days hoping that a taxi will drive by. I’ve been in a lot of taxis in my life, but only two or three of them have ever been in the Mile High City. A Denver taxi is like a unicorn – people swear they’ve seen them but there’s scant proof that they really exist.

The Rocky Mountain News has chronicled the tales of several Denverites who have actually called for taxis and waited for hours until they arrived…if they arrived at all:

The state Public Utilities Commission has begun investigating a taxi company in response to a Rocky Mountain News story Wednesday about a disabled woman who waited more than two hours for a 1 1/2-mile cab ride home. It wasn’t her first such wait.
“This is clearly a violation of our rules. They’re supposed to be there in 45 minutes,” said PUC Director Doug Dean. “If this is occurring, which it appears be, it’s unacceptable.”…

…Metro Taxi did not respond to repeated requests for comment about the incident involving Psalm Shaw, 34, a student at Metropolitan State College of Denver who uses a wheelchair and crutches. Shaw said she’s had to wait nearly three hours for cabs, adding that cabbies sometimes never show up because her short trips pay little…

…The story about Shaw’s ordeal Tuesday sparked dozens of calls and e-mails to the newspaper, and other readers registered their comments on the RockyTalk Live online forum.

A 77-year-old woman said she has been left stranded by cabbies, and on one occasion, her oxygen tank ran out while she waited three hours for a ride.

That last story sounds like a bad joke from a Don Rickles performance. I waited so long, I ran out of oxygen!

Legislation is now being discussed at the State Capitol that would go a long way to alleviating these problems, despite some of the ridiculous claims from cab company representatives that more taxis would somehow lead to fewer taxis being available. House Bill 1114, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Jerry Frangas, would partially deregulate the monopolies that a small number of companies hold on the taxi industry and open up the field to more competition – and more taxi cabs. The bill passed out of the House Transportation and Energy Committee today with support from both sides of the aisle and will make its next stop in the Appropriations Committee.