No fare City's last cab company ends service

By Thomas Wilson
star staff

  A taxi cab company that served Carter County for decades ceased operation last week.
  Black and White Cab, 208 N. Pine St., ended taxi service and shut off its meters on Friday. A recorded message received when calling the company's telephone number notified callers of the business closure. Company owner Mitchell Turbyfill said Monday that the cost of automobile insurance and high gas prices contributed to the company's shut down.
  "It has been going down hill for the last three or four years," he said. "Insurance is sky high."
  Turbyfill said his father, Robert Turbyfill, purchased the Black and White Cab Company in 1949. The family also previously owned another cab company in town. Turbyfill said Black and White cabs transported county residents around the United States during the company's history. He said he planned to sell some vehicles in the taxi company's fleet.
  "I have gotten to the point where it would be a waste of time to pour any more money into it," he said.
  The cab company's demise also brings an end to the convenience of motor transport for some city residents who needed vehicle transportation.
  "If you drive it's hard to relate, but what if somebody gets sick?" said Brenda Julian, an Elizabethton resident and non-driver who relied on the taxi service.
  She told the Star the cab company was the only means of motor transportation for some city residents. Julian said she and her 80-year-old neighbor, Virginia Billmeier, faced finding a new transportation method to make doctor's appointments and run errands to the grocery store or the pharmacy.
  "I understand a lot of people who drive, but there are a lot of people who don't," Julian said. "With my own doctor appointments I was usually out a couple of times each week."
  The First Tennessee Area Agency on Aging & Disability provides transportation by calling a senior citizens center in the agency's eight-county service area. A request for transport must be made 24 hours in advance and a fee is charged for trips from home to the senior center and for intermediate stops at grocery stores and drug stores.
  Julian said the drawback to alternative service was the waiting time. A passenger usually was picked up one hour before a medical appointment and not returned home until three hours after the appointment was over, she said.
  "They can only get to you when they have time," she said. "It is not bad for a younger person but for an older person it is.
  "You need at least some type of public transportation."