A distinctively pink taxi is being put out to pasture, so to speak, on Charleston’s East End.
C&H Taxi, which owns and operates the vibrant pink cab, is preparing to retire the vehicle from regular shifts in coming days, after a five-year-plus career transporting customers throughout the Kanawha Valley.
The 2003 Ford Crown Victoria has logged 388,000 miles, mostly in the upper end of the Kanawha Valley, and will be taken off the road before it gets to 400,000 miles.
That’s according to “The Pink Ride”’s nearly-sole driver, Mike Douglas. “The Pink Ride” has been a part of the C&H Taxi fleet for about five-and-a-half years, and Douglas has been a professional cabbie for the past five years.
So fond of the cab is Douglas that he has kept it at his South Hills home when he and the vehicle are off duty.
C&H Taxi CEO Jeb Corey explained last week how the Ford gained its eye-popping exterior.
“In 2010,” Corey said, “the Taxicab, Limousine and Paratransit Association decided to join the Pink Ride program, for breast cancer awareness. The TLPA got with cab companies all over the country for this. ... We chose to paint one of ours pink.”
C&H was assisted by Maaco, Corey said, whose employees painted the Crown Vic pink at no charge to the cab company.
As part of the promotion, cab companies were asked to make donations toward breast cancer awareness and research each October.
“For every trip in October, we were asked to donate $1,” Corey explained. During every October from 2010, he said, $1 from each fare was donated to the American Cancer Society.
“As of last October, we had donated $1,925 to the American Cancer Society,” he said.
Douglas said “The Pink Ride” also raised awareness, along with eyebrows, when he drove it in three South Charleston Christmas parades and had the car on display at a Zumba for the Cure fundraiser at the Charleston Civic Center.
People were known to snap photos of “The Pink Ride” with their cell phones when he would pick up fares, and the cab seemed to develop its own cult of fans wherever he went.
“Everybody associated me with the pink cab,” said Douglas. “Wherever I’d drive it, I’d get waves or hear car honks, even if the people didn’t know me.
“It’s been an awesome experience. The kids absolutely love it. It’s just been fun to drive.”
Douglas said he wasn’t sure if “The Pink Ride” would be resold or disassembled for parts after its imminent retirement, but “if it goes up for sale, I’m going to buy it.”
“I’ve had very little problems with that cab, but its mileage is catching up with it,” he said.
Corey said the average “life span” of a commercial cab is usually three or four years, so “The Pink Ride” has served the public long and well.
Corey added that it may be possible to bring another pink cab into the C&H fold but not for a while. “We’ve talked about doing other colors for other causes, as well,” he said.
For “The Pink Ride” driver Douglas, though, work just won’t be quite as colorful from now on, he said.
“Now I’ve got to drive a white cab. From now on, I’m just going to blend in,” he said.