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Coachella 2013: The perils of needing a taxi

April 15, 2013|By Jessica Gelt
  • Night falls on the Coachella Music and Arts Festival. Need a cab when the music's over? They're available, but only at the designated spot.
Night falls on the Coachella Music and Arts Festival. Need a cab when the… (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles…)

Imagine the scene: It's late Saturday night at Coachella and you're tired. The sound of Phoenix echoes in the distance as you walk away from the Empire Polo Club in Indio, because to save time and avoid the parking quagmire, you had a friend drop you off. It can happen, because it happened to me.

I needed a cab, but my phone was dead. Surely, however, with a festival this size there must be a wealth of taxis waiting for those who might have overindulged on more than just music after a full day in the desert?

No such luck. Cabs are allowed to pick up passengers only from a designated spot in Lot 13 at 52nd and Madison streets -- a detail I didn't discover until later. So I walked, and then walked some more until I flagged down a sheriff's deputy patrolling the outskirts of the festival. He told me that cabs weren't permitted to stop in most areas outside the festival. He didn't tell me about the designated taxi area, which by then was a long walk from where I was.

COACHELLA:  Festival  photos since 2004

"What am I supposed to do?" I asked. "Talk to Goldenvoice about that," he replied, and walked away.

I was miles away from the festival before I saw the red light of a hospital, where I finally called a cab. The next day, I contacted American Cab, and the company confirmed that its drivers would get cited and fined if they picked anyone up outside the designated festival pickup spot.

"It's for safety reasons," the operator told me. "To make sure everything is kept contained."

Goldenvoice said it had no official comment, but reiterated that there is a taxi stand for festival-goers. Let prospective Coachella attendees heed this lesson -- those cabs will indeed be at the appointed areas. And nowhere else. 

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