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Las Vegas taxi operator of more than 50 years plans to sell or close operations by March

Frias Transportation Management, which operates five taxi companies in Southern Nevada, is trying to sell its assets to other taxi companies. If it does not, some 1,100 employees will be out of work when operations end March 13. (Frias photo)

A transportation company that began operations in Las Vegas in 1961 hopes to sell its taxi operations or perhaps close its doors.

The Board of Trustees of the Charles and Phyllis M. Frias Charitable Trust has voted to dispose of its operating transportation business, Frias Transportation Management.

Management and staff were formally notified this week.

"Although the approximate 1,100 employees will no longer be employed by Frias transportation business, many may be afforded the opportunity to continue to provide safe transportation experiences to Southern Nevada residents and tourists from its successors in interest," a news release stated. "The Frias Legacy will continue to champion its philanthropic endeavors and charitable mission set forth by Charles and Phyllis M. Frias more than 50 years ago.

Frias operates five taxi names -- Ace Cab, Union Cab, Vegas Western Cab, ANLV Cab and Virgin Valley Cab.

"Since the news broke yesterday of the notice we’ve received calls from all over the nation (from)parties interested in purchasing these assets," said John Mowbray, co-trustee of the Charles and Phyllis M. Frias Charitable Trust.

In November 2017, Frias laid off about 160 drivers when the company discontinued its airport shuttle and limousine service, suggesting in a news release that emerging rideshare companies were having a significant effect on business.

Taxi rides are down nearly 14 percent from November 2017 to November 2018, according to figures from the Nevada Taxicab Authority. Nine of 16 companies showed ridership decreases.

It is unknown who might buy the assets of Frias, but it is anticipated that other Southern Nevada taxi companies may step forward to keep an estimated 1,100 employees at work.

"Our drivers, our employees will have a chance to work with the successors to continue that legacy all be it on a different platform," Mowbray said.

"It is our understanding that other parties have expressed interest in purchasing the assets of Frias Transportation and keeping them in service," Nevada Taxicab Authority Administrator Scott Whittemore stated,” While legacy interests may be shifting, it is very positive to see new groups and individuals stepping forward to lead the future with renewed investment and innovation.”

Should a transfer of assets/medallions occur, the matter will be heard in a public meeting, said Teri Williams, the public information officer for the Nevada Department of Business & Industry, which oversees the taxicab authority.

If no buyer is found, operations will end March 13, said a company spokeswoman.

The Frias operation in Southern Nevada dates back to 1958.

In what was to be a short trip by Charlie and Phyllis Frias to visit relatives in a small desert western town turned into a half-century collaboration.

On Oct. 31, 1961, Charlie drove his first shift as a taxi cab driver for a small company named Union Cab with less than 20 employees. Phyllis soon joined Charlie as the company’s bookkeeper.

"That inauspicious start evolved five years later with the purchase of the taxi company which would birth what would become Nevada’s largest transportation enterprise which included five taxicab companies: Ace, A NLV, Union, Vegas-Western, and Virgin Valley," according to a news release. " Grateful for the successes Las Vegas provided them and resolute in their philanthropic desire to support children, education and the less fortunate members of the community, several southern Nevada civic, cultural and not for profit organizations were recipients of the couple’s generosity along the way. Charlie and Phyllis did not have any children. During their lifetimes Charlie and Phyllis were actively engaged as philanthropists in Southern Nevada, supporting children, education, the less than fortunate members of society as well as many Southern Nevada educational, civic, cultural and not for profit organizations."

Charlie died in 2006. Phyllis died in 2016.

Last month in furtherance of the Frias philanthropic legacy directive, the trustees announced an inaugural $9 million distribution to the Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada. The charitable distribution of a home, bed and breakfast, restaurant and lodging along with 70 acres of land is the largest single gift to any Girl Scout council in the 106-year history of Girl Scouts USA.

"There's so many Frias legacies that still stand beside the campus, the Charlie Frias Park one of the largest county parks," Mowbray said.

It appears that some taxi companies have shown interest in Frias assets.

Mowbray says profit from the sale will go towards the Frias trust.

"Their whole estate plan is designed to sell assets that they worked so hard to build and sell those assets for the benefit of children, education and the less fortunate society of Southern Nevada," Mowbray said.


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