The most riveting presentation at TLPA’s Annual Convention was saved for last. In a segment called ‘Doubling Down – Bullish operators discuss why they are buying taxi fleets’ three (young) operators – Bill George, zTrip, Kansas City; Chris Sweis, Yellow Cab San Francisco and Will van der Linde, Old Dominion Transportation Group, Charlottesville – were quizzed by president O’Toole about their faith in the taxi industry. Why are they buying companies? “The mobility market is growing, we see room for our companies in that growing market and we have developed a different model for our service. Besides, there is plenty of room in niche-markets.”
Why now? “There are many folks who don’t want to deal with change and sell their companies or work as an affiliate in our system. There are good deals to be made and there is a lot of non-emergency medical work to be picked up – diversifying the business is the answer.”
The restructuring process for the old companies is fairly brutal, the three operator-investors agree. Old processes are streamlined, systems changed and often staffers and many drivers have to go. One example: “We want the drivers to buy into the idea of service and a new concept, so we replace all the old cabs by one year old rental cars with 45.000 miles on the counter, we ferry them in from elsewhere and spray them silver. The yellow of Yellow Cab goes, the silver of zTrip and its app comes in.” Interestingly, some of these companies use the ‘lighter’ TNC-regulation reserved for Uber and Lyft, some use both types of regulation, taxi and TNC, depending on the area.
A truly upbeat end to a moderately optimistic conference of a sprightly 100-year old. (© 2018 TaxiIntelligence).
- These taxi operators see new opportunities for investment in the current American taxi market.