Many businesses are affected by the growth and activity around Minot, and the city's taxi cab companies are no exception.
Requests for service have increased significantly in the past couple of years, said Dave Hase, manager of Taxi 9000. With the added traffic that Minot is experiencing, particularly at certain times of day, getting up and down the city's crowded streets also takes longer than it once did.
"It's tough getting everybody picked up in a reasonable time," Hase said, "It gets stressful."
Dave Hase, manager of Taxi 9000, sits at the wheel of one of his company’s cabs Dec. 19.
A driver conducts a vehicle inspection before starting his shift at Central Cab Dec. 19.
Waiting even 15 minutes to a half hour for a cab isn't what people have been used to in the past in Minot, but it is the new reality.
Chris Braun, manager of Central Cab, said traffic has increased just in the 10 months that the company has been operating. The time it takes to get across town has doubled, which affects how quickly drivers can respond to customers.
Calls for service are up with the increased population, increased flights at Minot International Airport and the number of new hotels.
The Minot airport has contracted with Central Cab to provide shuttle service between the overflow parking near the sports complex south of the airport and the terminal building. Over the holidays, people are able to park on the upper level behind the ball diamond and catch the taxi shuttle. During the heaviest traffic periods, a taxi is stationed at the location. Cab drivers also take information about the schedules of passengers delivered to the airport. That enables them to have a cab available when the passengers return and need a ride back to their vehicles, even if continuous shuttle service isn't operating that day.
Hase said Taxi 9000 used to have a cab stationed at the airport when flights arrived, but there are so many flights now that it no longer is practical.
"I would have to have a cab sitting up there all the time, and we have been so busy in town," he said.
Operating round the clock, both cab companies offer night-before appointments for people needing rides in the very early hours of the morning, which frequently occurs due to the airport flight schedule.
Braun said Central Cab isn't so busy that drivers skimp on time with passengers. Drivers still are encouraged to assist with bags or groceries and make sure passenger needs are addressed.
"No matter how busy we are, that's still number one taking care of customers you have at the time," she said.
Another issue for cab companies like many Minot businesses is finding employees. To be eligible to drive a cab, applicants must pass a background test to qualify for a cab license.
Hase said Taxi 9000 adjusted employee shifts to ensure the level of coverage it needs during peak times.
Braun said Central Cab has had more challenges finding dispatchers than recruiting drivers. Overall, turnover has been high, but Braun said that may be easing.
"I definitely have a crew now that enjoys what they do," she said.
It helps to have drivers who know the city, although even long-time residents might struggle in finding their way around at times. Hase and Braun said Google Maps can't keep up with Minot's growth. Some places are so new they don't have street signs. The number of new hotels and apartment complexes has exploded. Different apartment complexes in different parts of town sometimes use the same or similar names.
Runs aren't just around Minot, either. Braun said her cabs have taken passengers into Minnesota, Montana and South Dakota.
Central Cab hasn't been too busy to look for more avenues to utilize its vehicles in the community, though.
Braun said Central Cab is looking to expand its contract services, such as shuttling for more hotels. Central Cab has been interested for some time in acquiring a handicapped-accessible van to provide transportation services for people with disabilities beyond the service hours of Souris Basin Transportation. Braun said that could happen sometime next year if the pieces come together.
"There's always room for growth," Braun said. "There's always more we can offer to the city and surrounding area."