Since the advent of ride-hailing apps, Greeley is a taxi service desert for some – not an unusual situation in the US
About 1:15 a.m. on a cold September night, Mike Pascarella was released from a hospital in Greeley and needed a ride home.
He called a cab company that didn’t have drivers based in Greeley. He expected a wait, but it was his only option since the closure of Greeley-based Mystery Rides and Smart Rides earlier this year.
No one was available, so he continued to call every 20 or 30 minutes hoping a driver would become available. It wasn’t until 7 a.m. that Pascarella got a lift. “I’m a senior citizen with disabilities. I’m a vet, and I don’t need to be treated like this,” he said. “They don’t have anybody in Greeley to help people out who need it.”
Pascarella said it wasn’t the first time he was left waiting for hours in the cold. Two previous times, he was fortunate enough to find people willing to take him home. Greeley bar owners have reported similar issues with taxi services based outside of Greeley. Sometimes drivers took an hour and a half before they could pick up a drunk patron, and sometimes they never showed up at all.
Among business travelers, Uber has come to take up 74 percent of the ride-hailing market, according to a second quarter of 2018 report by Certify, an online travel and expense management company. Lyft meets about 19 percent of the market, while traditional taxi services — which have continued to decrease over recent years — take up only 7 percent of the market.
Since Uber and Lyft have become prevalent in Greeley, no other transportation companies have stepped up to fill the hole left by Mystery Rides and Smart Rides. For senior citizens who don’t own smartphones, like Pascarella, Greeley has become a taxi service desert. Alison Hamling, director of downtown experience at the Downtown Development Authority, said Uber and Lyft seem to have replaced most of the need for traditional taxi services.
“I do think there’s still a definite need for elderly and disabled who don’t have smartphones and access to computers to need rides back and forth to things like medical appointments or to get groceries,” Hamling said.
Beef Sloan Safe Ride, a nonprofit with the goal of decreasing drunk drivers, helps meet some of the need for taxi services, Hamling said. With just one car, however, owner Beef Sloan said it’s been difficult to meet the demands of passengers throughout the city.
Greeley-Evans Transit has grown over recent years to meet the demands of a growing population, building a transportation center in August 2017 and acquiring bigger buses this summer. Will Jones, the director at Greeley-Evans Transit, said passengers have made heavy use of the transportation center in its first year.
Moving ahead, Jones said work is underway to establish a regional route to Fort Collins through Windsor. Jones said the route, with a potential start date as early as 2020, will be intended to help primarily commuters. “But folks that need to make the trip that maybe don’t have an option can ride that same route, for medical appointments or other types of things,” he said. Pascarella still worries for those who might need a trip to or from the hospital and don’t have options other than calling a cab company.
- After Uber and Lyft moved in, Greeley has become a taxi desert for some.