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https://www.mprnews.org/story/2018/02/28/cab-businesses-insist-they-arent-done-yet

For 35 years, John Shannon of West St. Paul has made a living as a cab driver. But the last few years have been hard. Growing competition from ride sharing services is threatening the industry's survival.

"I would hope people would not forget about cabs," he said. "It's been tough."

Shannon has seen the number of cabs - and cab drivers - on Twin Cities roads steadily fall. Hundreds have succumbed to Uber and Lyft's seductively low prices.

"At first it was more of a nuisance-type thing, but as they grew more popular it was obvious that they were cutting into the business," Shannon said. "They were giving away free rides, and they got real, real popular with that."

The trends eroding the cab industry are playing out at a key destination, the Twin Cities airport. The number of Uber and Lyft drivers authorized to serve the airport has grown steadily to more than 5,000. The number of cabs authorized has dwindled 25 percent to 600 since last year.

On a recent morning, taxis at the airport waited for customers while there was consistently a dozen or so people hopping into Uber or Lyft vehicles.


Signs in the MSP terminal on the transit level direct people to both taxis and ride shares, on Feb. 23, 2018. Regina McCombs | MPR News
"Quite frankly I'd rather pay $21 to go downtown Minneapolis than pay $46 in a cab, in a dirty cab," said Joseph Karel of Chicago.

Twenty-five-year-old Emma Dunn of St. Paul said she always Ubers.

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For 35 years, John Shannon of West St. Paul has made a living as a cab driver. But the last few years have been hard. Growing competition from ride sharing services is threatening the industry's survival.

"I would hope people would not forget about cabs," he said. "It's been tough."

Shannon has seen the number of cabs - and cab drivers - on Twin Cities roads steadily fall. Hundreds have succumbed to Uber and Lyft's seductively low prices.

Taxi driver John Shannon of West St. Paul said some cab companies are adapting to compete with Uber and Lyft and some are not. Martin Moylan | MPR News
"At first it was more of a nuisance-type thing, but as they grew more popular it was obvious that they were cutting into the business," Shannon said. "They were giving away free rides, and they got real, real popular with that."

• We tracked Uber surge pricing during the Super Bowl: Here's what we found

The trends eroding the cab industry are playing out at a key destination, the Twin Cities airport. The number of Uber and Lyft drivers authorized to serve the airport has grown steadily to more than 5,000. The number of cabs authorized has dwindled 25 percent to 600 since last year.

On a recent morning, taxis at the airport waited for customers while there was consistently a dozen or so people hopping into Uber or Lyft vehicles.


Signs in the MSP terminal on the transit level direct people to both taxis and ride shares, on Feb. 23, 2018. Regina McCombs | MPR News
"Quite frankly I'd rather pay $21 to go downtown Minneapolis than pay $46 in a cab, in a dirty cab," said Joseph Karel of Chicago.

Twenty-five-year-old Emma Dunn of St. Paul said she always Ubers.

"It's what I've always used," she said. "So, it's a little bit easier for me. I know the process a little bit more."

But Ryan Day of Honolulu still wanted a taxi. He said they're what he's used to and just simpler.

"I'm in my late forties. Taxis, you get in; it's quick; you don't have to text or do anything. It's like instant gratification, I guess," he said.


Source: City of Minneapolis and City of St. Paul William Lager | MPR News Graphic
To fight back against Uber and Lyft, some cab companies are lowering fares, adopting technology and strategies employed by their new-economy rivals and trying to change how cabs are perceived.

"We're not your father's cab company," said Waleed Sonbol, who manages the Blue & White cab company in St. Louis Park. He has an ownership stake in four other taxi operations that have a combined 285 vehicles.

"We understand where we failed, but we are making the advances to be better and to be what you should expect in a cab company," he said.


While the ride-share services are often the least expensive option, it can depend on location and demand, as seen in a comparison of pricing on the apps. MPR News
Sonbol said customers can hail one of his cabs using a third-party app called Riide. It shows vehicles' locations, wait times and estimated fares. And he said using the app can keep fares close to Uber's and Lyft's on a per-mile basis.

"In some cases, we're probably on average around maybe 50 cents more," he said.

And Sonbol points out that when ride sharing companies boost rates during busy times, cab fares can be about the same - or even less.

Leaders in the cab business say Uber and Lyft have certainly hurt their business but they also say there were simply too many cabs put on the road on the earlier side of this decade.

"It's a little bit of both," said New Hope-based Transportation Plus, CEO Steve Pint.

Pint is transforming his fleet of some 500 cabs that operate under the Yellow, iHail and other banners.


Taxi Services Inc. co-owner Steve Pint looks at real time data coming from his fleet of taxis. Monitoring systems allow Pint to see statistics on how customers are booking rides as well as driver performance. Evan Frost | MPR News
"We're providing the same services [as Uber and Lyft] and doing it better. It's up to us to make it be cool to take a cab," he said.

Central to that effort is the company's smartphone app, iHail, and the option to request rides by text, e-mail or phone. In addition, Pint is working on "de-taxifying" taxis, making them look like Uber and Lyft vehicles.

Their markings are more subtle than traditional taxis. The vehicle types and colors are more varied, too. They have Uber-like dashboard window stickers. And dashboard cameras to monitor what goes on both inside and in front of a cab.

But Pint laments that cabs face far more regulatory oversight than Uber and Lyft do. From fare caps to licensing fees and greater scrutiny of drivers and vehicles.

In Minneapolis, for example, the city rules for cabs run to 39 pages. It's half that for ridesharing companies.

And Pint said Uber and Lyft continue to set fares below their actual cost hoping to drive competitors out of business.

Transportation industry consultant Hubert Horan doesn't dispute that.
"They have all these riders who love them because they get cheap fares," he said. "Well, it's not economical. Uber is not charging passengers what it costs to transport them."

Asked if its Twin Cities fares are below cost, an Uber spokesperson didn't answer the question.

Horan said those fare subsidies come, in effect, from Silicon Valley investors who still have faith in Uber, despite a history of corporate misbehavior ranging from a sexist culture that spurred a rider boycott to run-ins with regulators about issues such as failing to protect customer data to exaggerating driver earnings in the Twin Cities and many other markets.

Last year, the San Francisco-based ride-hailing company agreed to pay $20 million to resolve Federal Trade Commission charges about exaggerated compensation claims nationwide.

In early 2015, for instance, the FTC said Uber had told prospective drivers in Minneapolis they could make $18 an hour. But the commission said that only a tenth of drivers had been earning that much.

The FCC also alleged that Uber's exaggerated earnings claims enticed many people to buy or lease vehicles that they ended up unable to afford.

There's no sign investors will cut off the cash that keeps Uber running, even after a $4.5 billion loss last year. But Pint and Sonbol say their cab companies won't capitulate either.

Uber must eventually raise fares and that will be risky, said Brent Goldfarb, associate professor of management and entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland.

"When they do that, then demand is going to fall," he said. "And if demand falls too much, then drivers are going to stop driving. And when drivers stop driving, then ... people ... are going to have to wait longer for those rides."
 

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The fact of the matter is that the owners of these taxi companies in MN are the biggest scumbags of all time. Crooked, abusive grifters who prey on the weak and ignorant and who don't give two shits about the safety of the general public. Before anyone starts with the "just like Uber/Lyft" quips, these guys are in a whole other league and Uber/Lyft are angels compared to these guys.

I've worked in surface transportation for 25 years and just when you think they couldn't get any sleazier, they set the bar even lower.
 

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Cab companies should up their game by living on exceedingly slim overhead. Like, most cab drivers are owner/operator and the cab company has an ultra slim staff that basically takes care of the back end and some ride-haling conglomerate can take care of organizing "hailed" rides. Uber and Lyft will suffer the inevitable encumbering of corporate overhead/politics and the cab companies can capitalize by offering similar rates, with knowledgeable and local cabbies, to uber but 1/5 the overhead, making the gross margins not too different among the companies (large vs small), the main difference being that the cab company offers 95% commission rather than 70% because it is ultra slim and efficient.
 

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As long as I can remember, I thought the taxi industry sucked.

They're over-priced, drivers are rude, and I only took them when it was absolutely necessary. I feel for some of the drivers who spent their best years making a living as a cabbie, but the industry as a whole isn't getting my sympathy.

Whether they like it or not, it's just another step in the evolution of transportation. From the human foot to horseback, to horse drawn carriages to trolleys, trains then cars, methods of human transport is constantly evolving and antiquated models fall by the wayside. Eventually rideshare drivers will be replaced by autonomous cars, and no one will shed a tear for us.

You say rideshare has relegated your industry to $25 days sitting at the airport? Then deliver pizza instead. There's plenty of other driving gigs available.
 

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As long as I can remember, I thought the taxi industry sucked.

They're over-priced, drivers are rude, and I only took them when it was absolutely necessary. I feel for some of the drivers who spent their best years making a living as a cabbie, but the industry as a whole isn't getting my sympathy.

Whether they like it or not, it's just another step in the evolution of transportation. From the human foot to horseback, to horse drawn carriages to trolleys, trains then cars, methods of human transport is constantly evolving and antiquated models fall by the wayside. Eventually rideshare drivers will be replaced by autonomous cars, and no one will shed a tear for us.

You say rideshare has relegated your industry to $25 days sitting at the airport? Then deliver pizza instead. There's plenty of other driving gigs available.
The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of Uber/Lyft demand in Minneapolis/St. Paul is not from people who used to take cabs regularly, it's from people who would do anything in their power to not take cabs unless it was absolutely necessary.

Nobody here took cabs as a matter of convenience, they did it when they had no other good option to get from point A to B. The cab companies knew this and took advantage of the situation, leaving room in the market for Uber and Lyft. If there was no Uber or Lyft, these people wouldn't have called a cab in about 90% of the situations, they would have gotten a friend or family member to drive them or just not taken the trip.
 

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As long as I can remember, I thought the taxi industry sucked.

They're over-priced, drivers are rude, and I only took them when it was absolutely necessary. I feel for some of the drivers who spent their best years making a living as a cabbie, but the industry as a whole isn't getting my sympathy.

Whether they like it or not, it's just another step in the evolution of transportation. From the human foot to horseback, to horse drawn carriages to trolleys, trains then cars, methods of human transport is constantly evolving and antiquated models fall by the wayside. Eventually rideshare drivers will be replaced by autonomous cars, and no one will shed a tear for us.

You say rideshare has relegated your industry to $25 days sitting at the airport? Then deliver pizza instead. There's plenty of other driving gigs available.
Based on the cabbies I encounter, an actual delivery job would kill their obese, chain-smoking asses by requiring them to work instead of standing around outside of casinos and airports wasting their lives away *****ing about Uber drivers.

Adapt or die. No one said capitalism was fair.
 

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The fact of the matter is that the owners of these taxi companies in MN are the biggest scumbags of all time. Crooked, abusive grifters who prey on the weak and ignorant and who don't give two shits about the safety of the general public. Before anyone starts with the "just like Uber/Lyft" quips, these guys are in a whole other league and Uber/Lyft are angels compared to these guys.
Agreed. If folks had any idea of the poor maintenance cabs get, they would never climb in....
 

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I think MPR hates UBER

The comparison MPR used has Uber as the most expensive option (surge pricing) from downtown MPLS to the airport. Even higher than iHail taxis. I doubt the timing was random. If you look at the timing, they started with Uber surge and then ran the other apps. MPR seems put out non-stop propaganda. I wonder why they hate Uber?
MPR hates UBER.jpeg
 

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I think MPR hates UBER

The comparison MPR used has Uber as the most expensive option (surge pricing) from downtown MPLS to the airport. Even higher than iHail taxis. I doubt the timing was random. If you look at the timing, they started with Uber surge and then ran the other apps. MPR seems put out non-stop propaganda. I wonder why they hate Uber? View attachment 210309
Uber hasn't been a good corporate citizen, so it's understandable that MPR doesn't like them.
 

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I cannot say I am surprised. That can only be lazy reporting or intentionally presented in a way to try to influence opinions of lazy consumers. In NPR's case, I believe it's both.

It is too bad we can't simply have ANY news organization to simply report us facts and stop trying to mold our opinions..... guess I am asking for too much.
 

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We aren’t going to get facts anyways. If anyone truly dug into it, any response from Uber regarding money is going to be a lie. Look how they screw us. I would love someone to get inside Lyft and Uber and prove what most people on here believe goes on.
 
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