Owner of cab company says situation ‘very dire’ for taxis as rideshare companies allowed at airport

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SALT LAKE CITY - After months of controversy, Uber was finally given the green light to operate legally at Salt Lake City International Airport.

The airport announced Wednesday morning that Uber can pick up passengers at the median near gates 7 and 12, and drop off passengers curbside. For those flying in and out, Wednesday's news was well-received.

"I think it's great for everybody," said Kevin Blanco, who travels to Salt Lake City often on business from New York. "I think it's great to have options."

"It's just another option for me," agreed Seth Kleman. "The convenience of it is a plus."

However, the news wasn't received as well among local cab drivers who say the transportation changes are cutting into their business.

"It's anxiety right now," said Max Prophet, owner of an independent cab company.

Prophet said it's not fair that companies like Uber and Lyft are allowed to go to and from the airport freely while taxi cabs have to wait idle at a nearby lot.

“Right now it’s very, very dire to make a living out of it,” Prophet added.

Prophet and about 100 other cab operators sit at an off-site parking lot about a mile away from the airport. He said a limited number of cabs are allowed on airport grounds at a time. He worries that with the addition to Uber, his taxi fares will be dramatically decreased.

“In this business, if you’re getting three or four fares, you’re not going to survive," he said.

Uber says they will charge an additional $1.89 service fee for passengers to and from the airport.

12 comments

  • Topher Brock

    Mr Prophet complains that “only a few cabs are allowed near the airport while the other 100 sit idle nearly a mile from the airport”. I drove cab in the ’90s (WELL before the TSA and heightened security) and that’s how it was then too. There just isn’t enough room for more than a couple taxicabs near the terminal. I didn’t hear him complaining when TRAX extended a line to the airport.

  • Deb

    I don’t feel bad for the cab companies at all. In July, I contacted a cab company requesting a pick up at my home to the airport at a specific time. When they did not arrive, I called to ask if they were coming. I had to call three times. Finally, a cab arrived 15 minutes later. It’s a good thing I planned on the cab arriving early, otherwise, I would have missed my flight. I think a little competition will be good for the good ole boys. Maybe when you make a reservation with a cab company, they will consider honoring it if their business has slowed down.

  • Apologist JD

    Creative destruction of the free market. Technology is killing the old, expensive model for taxi cabs. They can cry about it or just do what Uber and Lyft are doing: innovate a lower cost, more efficient model. There is no guarantee that your dinosaur business model will work in perpetuity. This is exactly what competition is supposed to do in a free market.

  • anotherbob

    The cabbies are just mad they have real competition now, I don’t feel sorry for them at all. The world is constantly changing and if you can’t adapt to changes then you need to find another way to make money. I like the idea of services like Uber because the driver may be using their personal vehicle and thus is in their best interest to provide a quality experience, cabbies can be just plain uncaring or even rude.

  • Hyrum_Justice

    Looks like taxis need to find a way to be more competitive. Will it mean a cut to the pay of execs? Or will the business owners try to make the employees shoulder this as well?

  • Whoopie Doo McEnroe

    I don’t feel sorry for the cab companies per say but what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If the cabs are required to have limited vehicles near the terminals with others waiting in the outskirts, then the same should apply to Uber and Lyft.

  • Craig Smith

    So, what they are saying is they can’t survive when there is fair competition. They have had preferential treatment for far too long. It’s about time they see what it’s like to succeed because you have a good company providing good service for a reasonable price. Maybe they will need to make some changes in order to survive now they have some competition.

  • Michael Aaron

    A cab driver tried to charge us $50 to go from the airport to West Capitol Hill. Wasn’t using his meter. Just came up with an exorbitant fare out of thin air. We gave him a $20 (the normal fare we’ve paid for years, with tip) and told him to sue us for the rest. Another yelled at us that we should have taken Trax home (what? And walk a mile and a half with our luggage?) because he waited at the airport for hours to get this fare. And, yes, calling the cab company can take MANY tries. When you need to catch a plane, you can’t wait 20 minutes to merely make the call. I’ve never waited more than 3 minutes for a Lyft or Uber ride. Like the dinosaurs…

  • Todd

    Taxi companies only have themselves to blame. Terrible customer service and terrible pricing mean customers are going to choose a better option.

  • Miss_possible

    Taxi Cabs are losing business because they are too expensive. I live exactly 7 miles from the airport. I took a cab from the airport to my house once, and Uber from my house to the airport once. The cab cost me something like $30-35 and Uber was like $10-15 (I cant remember exactly). That is a no brainer half the price of the cab and much better service. The man and I chit chatted the whole way to the airport in Uber, and it was pleasant. The Cab driver talked on his cell phone the whole time in a foreign language and pretty much ignored me. It surprises me even that cabs are still being used at all. I will never use one again!!

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