Family-owned taxi service brings success to Salt Lake City’s west side

Story by CHEYENNE PETERSON

Passengers from an arrival flight at the Salt Lake City International Airport make their way to the outside pickup location. Cellphones are pulled out within seconds and with a simple tap on an app, ride-share drivers swarm, like busy bees picking up their pollen. 

Corporate ride sharing has dominated the field, casting taxi drivers to the curb. But not all taxi companies have lost their edge. A family-owned business stays competitive in this evolving marketplace. 

Ricardo Mendosa has been a taxi driver for the past 18 years in the Salt Lake City area. 

AAA Latino Transportation owner Ricardo Mendosa at Salt Lake City International Airport. Image from Google Photos.

Mendosa first worked seven years for a major taxi service, but decided that he could create a better transportation business of his own. He calls it AAA Latino Transportation. 

AAA Latino Transportation is located west of Salt Lake City’s Interstate 15, conveniently on 1007 S. 800 West.

According to AAA Latino Transportation’s website, the business provides an efficient and reliable taxi service, without the struggle of getting a rental car and for a good value. Owners stress the importance of helping clientele reach their destination without draining their wallet.

Mendosa generally takes most of his rides to the Salt Lake City area and to the Salt Lake City International Airport. 

“And if you want to drive to Vegas, I’ll drive you to Vegas,” Mendosa said in a phone interview.

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AAA Latino Transportation at the border of Idaho. Image from Google Photos.

The transportation service areas include Salt Lake City, Ogden, Provo, Park City, Tooele, Layton, Logan, and Heber. 

Ride Sharing has become lucrative and convenient for many. Either as a part time or transitional work. Julie Bennett moved from Georgia and as she was transitioning to her new home in Utah, she had not secured a job. While applying to potential careers, she spent two months driving for Lyft. 

According to Bennett, as a Lyft driver, she would not go any farther than a 20-minute drive. 

Drivers are unable to see a passenger’s destination, until they accept the fare.

“You can’t see where they want to go or where they need you to pick them up. Unless you have a certain amount of rides, which I had not done. Every time I would pick someone up and notice they would need to be driven more than 15 to 20 minutes. I would reject the ride. Nothing more than 20 minutes, just because I didn’t get paid to drive the 20 minutes back,” Bennett said in a phone interview. 

She said many other ride-share drivers also would not go the longer distances.

“I do know some other Lyft drivers. I bet they would not drive more than 20 minutes, because it’s a waste of their time, money, and miles on their car,” Bennett said.

Bennett said she would take Mendosa’s transportation services, since she could confirm that they have great reviews. Google reviews rates AAA Latino Transportation at a solid 4.6 stars, whereas other company reviews like Yellow Cab have 2.4 stars. 

“I would definitely take a taxi to Las Vegas, if I knew they were reliable and at a good price. If I knew what the rate of it was, before they even took me, I would trust them a lot more. I just know that if I were to request a Lyft, they would reject my ride. I don’t even know if any ride-share would even allow a ride that far. I don’t like that I won’t know who I’d be riding with either, until they accepted the ride. I wouldn’t want to be stuck with someone that I would be uncomfortable with,” Bennett said. 

Haley Meyer lives on the west side of Salt Lake City and uses ride-share companies frequently.

“I’m a big skier and sometimes I take an Uber to Solitude [Mountain Resort, a ski area near Salt Lake City]. Solitude at the beginning of the season started enforcing pay parking. Probably to get traffic off the roads. There was a lot of traffic and blockage on the roads up there, last season,” Meyer said in a phone interview. 

Although Meyer takes an Uber to go skiing, she runs into some issues getting rides. 

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AAA Latino Transportation will take you anywhere, in any weather. Image from Google Photos.

“My favorite time to go skiing is when it’s snowing, that’s when there’s fresh powder. That’s when most people go skiing anyways. It’s hard to find an Uber that will pick me up and take me to Solitude when it’s snowing,” Meyer said.

Mendosa’s company will take you to all the ski resorts. 

According to the website, “Our mission is to take you where you need to go, no matter if it’s raining, snowing, lightning, day or night. We are your best option for Taxi Service in Utah. Twenty-four hours, 7 days a week, and 365 days.” 

There is no need to take a shuttle to the ski resorts. 

“Taking a shuttle is not really that convenient. They stop at so many places and I feel like I wasted so much time,” Meyer said.

AAA Latino Transportation promises to be on time, professional, courteous, knowledgeable, and offer a safe taxi service.

Mosquito Abatement District helps prevent the West Nile Virus in Salt Lake City

Story and photos by CHEYENNE PETERSON

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), West Nile Virus is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States. 

West Nile Virus was introduced to the U.S. in 1999 and to Utah in 2003, said Greg White, the assistant director at the Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District.

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Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District located at 2215 N. 2200 West.

Since 1924, the SLCMAD, located at 2215 N. 2200 West, has had a group of specialists working on keeping mosquitoes controlled in the Salt Lake area. The principal focus is on population control and limiting the spread of the West Nile Virus. 

The CDC states that the West Nile Virus often begins with a bite from an infected mosquito. Mosquito season begins in summer and ends in fall. 

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SLCMAD lab.

“We feel like we do make an impact on the West Nile Virus. We take samples of mosquitoes for [it] specifically so that we find out if they are positive for the West Nile Virus. Then we will increase control in specific areas to try to interrupt the disease transmission,” White said. 

Every year, Utah has a large amount of mosquitos and these mosquitoes tend to gravitate to areas with stagnant water. In residential areas, culex pipiens mosquitoes are very common. These mosquitoes are the specific kind that transmit the West Nile Virus and can be a nuisance at times.  

“We don’t have as much water as the midwest like Minnesota and New Jersey, but we do get all of the water runoff from the mountains that we have. That goes straight down through the Salt Lake and as it gets closer everything stops flowing so good and the water starts to get stagnant,” White said.

The Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District provides an Urban Field Operation. There are three different services available within it, but one is critical to managing the West Nile Virus. Greg White calls this service “the bicycle program.” 

The bicycle program was created by the SLCMAD to keep the pesky mosquitoes out of the city.

“We will drop some people off with bikes and they will do their routes down the residential areas of Salt Lake City. They will look for places with standing water, like drains that don’t drain properly and storm water inlets,” White said.

The program consists of four bicyclists. Each has a few disposable pockets of biopesticides that resemble Tide laundry detergent pods. They keep these pods in a pouch located on the back of their bike. When riding their bikes through residential areas and standing water is observed, they throw the pods in the stagnant water. Each treatment lasts for three to four weeks each time.   

According to the Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement Center’s website, the biopesticides are “surface agents such as refined mineral oils or monomolecular films spread across the surface of the water to prevent mosquitoes from breathing. Mosquito larvae and pupae breathe through tubes called siphons that extend above the water surface.”

Cindy Oliver was diagnosed with West Nile Virus in September 2006.

“At that time there were a few cases and it was getting in the news that there was a West Nile Virus going around. In that year there were 131 cases in Utah,” said Glenn Oliver, Cindy’s husband, in a phone interview. 

According to the CDC, most people infected with West Nile Virus do not feel sick. About one in five people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms. About one out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness. 

Cindy said she had a headache and didn’t feel well. She thought she had a sinus infection, but it lasted for about five days.

Next, Glenn said, doctors thought she had meningitis.

Eventually they determined it was the West Nile Virus.

“She had to learn how to walk on her own again. Learn her motor skills all over again. So she couldn’t walk, talk, or do anything. She was completely wiped out of abilities,” Glenn said. 

Cindy said she spent four months recovering in hospitals. It has taken an additional 10 years of physical, occupational, and speech therapy in her home. 

“Doctors were amazed how well she has recovered, because we were expecting it to be worse,” Glenn said.

According to Cindy, “Support from family, getting better from doctors, and my faith” are the reasons why she recovered from the West Nile Virus.

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Greg White shows a visitor mosquitoes of different ages and sizes at the SLCMAD.

The Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District recommends being aware of mosquitoes in the area and to report them. Its funding is from a small portion of the Salt Lake area property taxes. After that there is no additional cost for using the services.

The CDC website suggests, “You can reduce your risk of West Nile Virus by using insect repellent and wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants to prevent mosquito bites.”

White said, “If people have a mosquito problem in their area, we will come out, check it out and give them treatment, inspections and everything with no cost.”

Roberto Elguera

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I’m, as you can see above, Roberto Elguera. I was born in Lima, Peru and raised in Provo, Utah. I’m now living in Salt Lake City where I’ll be graduating as part of the 2020 class at the University of Utah in Communications with an emphasis on journalism. Having a diverse background, I was always interested in people’s stories. In my career, I hope to give people the opportunity to share those experiences. Part of my time at the U included an internship at K-Ute Radio. I was able to pursue my interests in Hip-Hop culture and entertainment by hosting The Hip Hop Drip. I got to interview artists, partake in shows in SLC, and build my radio chops.

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This past year, I moved to Salt Lake City’s west side and I don’t believe I would appreciate it as much as I do now. This beat has given me the opportunity to learn about my new community and the curiosity to explore it. There is so much more to the west side than what is portrayed by others.   

I originally thought that this beat was going to be easier. It was difficult to find people to cooperate with interviews. I had people hang up on me or flat out tell me they didn’t have the time. I had to change the direction of my topics to people who were more agreeable. It was intimidating at times, but it pushed me. It pushed me to try again and again, until there was someone who was willing to give their time to a learning journalist. It was so rewarding in the end. The people who were open to talking to me were so kind and made the push worth it. The experience made me appreciate the amazing people in the west-side community. 

I have learned that I do enjoy talking and interviewing people who are passionate about something dear to them. I have the chance to feature them in my own writing and the ability to have it published. It gives a voice to the community. I have found that it is important to not only write an entertaining article, but also to write something meaningful and impactful. 

I found that being a professional communicator can be difficult at times, but also rewarding. I want to write the story as best as I can, for the sake of the community I am writing it for. It is challenging to get a piece the exact way that you would like. In the end, the time makes up for how a story might impact or change a community.

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My parents gave me a dune buggy when I was 6-years-old. I lived in this buggy and wanted to be just like my dad. He is a retired driver for Mickey Thompson Off-Road Racing and today watches his old off-road racing friends in NASCAR. We attended hundreds of races growing up. I learned quickly that the sport was expensive and my family didn’t have the time to keep up with my own competitive racing. During this time I became fascinated with the NASCAR pit reporters like Jamie Little and Kim Coon. I wanted to know how they became reporters and was informed that they were journalists. This is what sparked my writing career. 

I am an outdoors woman. Almost everyone in the racing world is involved in the outdoors and I wanted to follow the footsteps of the racing community. I found myself working for an outdoor television show in Nashville. I learned how to produce, film, edit, and be in front of the camera. I had the awesome experience to film legendary outdoor television stars like Jimmy Houston, Hank Parker, and Jimmy Sites. I also had my own episodes.

I am currently a student at the University of Utah studying Journalism. I hope to one day become a broadcaster/reporter in the racing industry or have the opportunity to start my own outdoor television show. I am looking forward to using my degree and entertaining many viewers.

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