Meet Your Merchant: Taxi company aims to offer river floaters a safe ride home
TAHOE CITY, Calif. and#8212; Itand#8217;s hot over the water. The sun has painted their flesh into a kind of sherbet pinkness. Dried sun block sticks to cheeks, arms and legs, the river adding an invisible residue to their board shorts and swimsuits. The sun-baked travelers are weary, wet; theyand#8217;re looking for relaxation after the dayand#8217;s four-hour long float down the Truckee River. Hobbling toward the River Ranch parking lot just off Highway 89, the family spots two big blue vans. Rescue is in sight.
The two vans belong to Truckee River Taxi Company, a new local business describing itself as the first and only taxi service in Tahoe dedicated to shuttling rafters floating the Truckee River to and from the start and end of their adventure and#8212; with families being a strong contingent of their customers.
Owners Jennifer Black, Jamo Griggs and Erik Uhlir devised the idea about a year ago, with everything coming together around April and May this year.
The trio brainstormed the idea to accommodate rafters who do not use a commercial rafting company, and to provide a taxi service option when locals and tourists drop into the river on their own during times like earlier this summer (due to high snowpack levels affecting Truckee River flow in lower elevations) when water couldnand#8217;t legally be released from Lake Tahoe into the river.
and#8220;Those companies normally operating at this time of year are still waiting for the dam to be open, so we gave an option to people to float still,and#8221; Uhlir said in an early July interview.
Since the company opened, Griggs said the reception has been positive, both from local businesses and government, as well as patrons using the service.
and#8220;Weand#8217;re really trying to get demand by offering a safe ride home. Everybody seems pretty excited about the whole thing,and#8221; he said.
Congested parking is also a problem at the River Ranch at the Alpine Meadows Road intersection, where most end their float and#8212; the new venture is hoped to alleviate some of the logistical problems with floating, Uhlir said.
The three rafting entrepreneurs all come from a variety of backgrounds, with Black, originally from Kansas, having experience in restaurant management, and Griggs and Uhlir, both from Vermont, previously working as guides for other rafting companies.
and#8220;We all have backgrounds in various business, but never with taxi, so this is a first for us. This is our first season going and so were really excited,and#8221; Black said.
The three are also looking at expansion, possibly considering taxi services during the winter, operating as designated drivers when needed.
and#8220;We want it to be year-round and#8212; we donand#8217;t want it to be seasonal,and#8221; Black said.
Besides assisting families, helping floaters and party-goers to avoid arrest for driving under the influence is a primary concern for the owners, who see their business as a cheap alternative to a DUI.
and#8220;We did a little number crunching, and the price of an average DUI is about 500 cab rides,and#8221; said Griggs.
and#8220;People are going to get out and float anyway, and now were able to make it even better for them,and#8221; she said.
and#8212; If you know of a local business that is new to the Truckee/Tahoe community or one thatand#8217;s been here for years and has a great story to tell, and youand#8217;d like it considered for an upcoming Meet Your Merchant feature, contact Sierra Sun editor Kevin MacMillan at firstname.lastname@example.org.