MINOT, N.D. - Hailing a taxi is getting more difficult in North Dakota's oil patch.
It's yet another side effect of the population increase that's come with the oil boom that's brought to the state prosperity and the nation's lowest unemployment rate.
Requests for taxi service have jumped significantly in the past couple of years, said Dave Hase, manager of Taxi 9000. Wait times for taxis have gone from virtually nil to easily 30 minutes, he said.
"It's tough getting everybody picked up in a reasonable time," Hase told the Minot Daily News. "It gets stressful."
North Dakota is the nation's second-largest oil-producing state, trailing only Texas. The statewide prosperity it's brought has translated into the lowest unemployment rate in the country, drawing thousands of newcomers to the region looking for work.
The state has an oil-driven budget surplus that is expected to reach $1.6 billion by June.
But with the prosperity have come difficulties. It's tough to find housing, and hotels in the region often are booked months in advance. Airports are struggling to keep up with increased flight demands, helping to tax the taxi companies.
Another complication: Passengers are more regularly requesting to leave the city limits. Chris Braun, manager of Central Cab, said her cabs have taken people into Minnesota, Montana and South Dakota.
Central Cab launched about 10 months ago. Braun said that since then, it's started taking twice as long to drive across town because there's more traffic.
Hase and Braun said it's become difficult to find employees. To be eligible to drive a cab, applicants must pass a background test to qualify for the appropriate license.
Central Cab has had a more difficult time finding dispatchers than recruiting drivers, Braun said. Turnover has been high, she added, though it seems to be easing. "I definitely have a crew now that enjoys what they do," she said.
The company is looking to expand its contract services, such as shuttling for more hotels. "There's always room for growth," Braun said.