A year ago, you couldn’t hail a cab in Vermont’s capital city. And while some people might argue Montpelier doesn’t need a taxi service, Tim Bingham felt differently.
Bingham is the owner and one full-time driver for Capital Cab and Car Service.
His primary vehicle is a 2014 Honda Odyssey minivan painted with a black and white pattern copied from an actual Holstein named Liz.
Inside, the van is whistle clean. Bingham said he wanted a cab that wasn’t like the beat up ones he’d seen in other small communities.
He started his company 10 months ago. At the time Montpelier was without a taxi service after another company went out of business.
Bingham said after years driving a tractor trailer hauling hazardous materials, he wanted to work in his own community.
“I was working often long hours, coming and going and not being involved in my community. Frankly there’s times when it gets lonely out there: You and a truck and 10,000 gallons of gasoline,” he said.
The hours are still long. One recent day Bingham rolled out of bed at 3 a.m. to pick up a passenger arriving in Montpelier on the regularly scheduled Greyhound bus.
About 75 percent of his business is from local residents, he says. Many need a ride to the Amtrak station outside of town, the airport in Burlington, or the hospital a few miles away.
There is a local bus service, but often his fares need to get somewhere the bus doesn’t go, or at a time that doesn’t coincide with the bus schedule.
Bingham charges the equivalent of $2.50 a mile. A trip to the Burlington Airport is $88.
He says he meets some interesting people, but not being the taxi-and-tell type, he’s stingy with stories. Bingham does mention one couple who used his service to shop for cats.
“They would get a cat from one of the humane societies and if it didn’t fit their family’s needs they would return it,” he said. “They needed to return a cat to St. Albans, from Montpelier. We took them up there, waited a half an hour or so, then brought them back. About two months later I get a call from the same couple. They needed to go look at cats in Middlebury. Those are pretty expensive trips!”
Bingham currently has two vehicles and a part time driver. But he’d like to expand to have cars and drivers in Waterbury and the Mad River Valley.
He said he’s making "somewhat" of a living from the business, but he’s optimistic it will grow.
Bingham’s nature is upbeat - and gregarious. He chats up hotel and inn clerks who might send business his way, hands out Cow Tales candy, and takes his taxi to parades and other events – in hopes that the next time someone needs a cab, they’ll remember the van with the Holstein cow pattern.