Northern Michigan taxi services react to Uber launch
GRAND TRAVERSE COUNTY, Mi. (WPBN/WGTU) —
There's now a new way to get around in northern Michigan.
Uber launched Tuesday morning in Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties.
While many future customers seem happy with the addition, some local cab companies have concerns.
"Well no one is thrilled to have more competition," said Doug Dornbos, owner of Cherry Capital Cab.
With just the touch of a button on your phone app, customers who need a ride in Grand Traverse or Leelanau Counties can request one.
"You may get in the car and it may be someone who lives in your neighborhood or someone you see at the grocery store," said Charity Jackson, Public Affairs for Uber.
That's because drivers who pass a background check can use their own cars to offer the rides.
But vehicles must meet certain requirements.
"Yeah it could hurt business, it could also help business if they generate enough interest in taking public transportation that they can't fill it," Dornbos said.
Dornbos says Cherry Capital Cab prides itself on the training that drivers receive.
"I'd have a hard time letting someone drive for Cherry Capital Cab if they weren't somebody I could meet, look at in the face, talk to," he said.
Malachy Godfrey is the owner of Karaoke Cab in Traverse City.
He says he has concerns too, but because he sticks out with his entertainment based cab, he's not so worried about losing business.
"People call me because they want the karaoke experience," Godfrey said. "Not because they're not necessarily looking for the super cheapest Uber rides."
He says it's hard for other companies to compete because in Traverse City, taxi drivers are required to have a certain limousine license.
"That's something that's really tough for I think the taxi companies to compete against because we are required to carry all of that extra coverage, where somebody's personal vehicle that they use an as Uber they're not required to do that."
Customers can use Uber for a ride from Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties to go anywhere else in the state.
Uber is available 24/7, 365 days a year.
They do raise prices during certain busy times like holidays.
Cherry Capital Cab says they have not changed rates in five years.