Cab Officials Hold Meeting with Mayor Brown

Cab companies want equal playing field with ridesharing

Mike Baggerman
January 16, 2018 - 5:30 pm

WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Officials from area cab companies met with Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown to discuss the current dynamics between the cab companies and ridesharing companies.

"I would describe our meeting with the mayor as a first step," Robert Boreanaz, an attorney representing the taxi companies, said. "I think the mayor learned today there is not a level playing field between the (Transportation network companies) and the taxi industry. The taxi industry is operating with one hand behind their back."

Boreanaz said that taxi companies will "go right down the tubes". He said people in the inner cities and those working late will not have a taxi company to call if the playing field is not level.

"The TNC's can do what they want and the taxi companies have one hand or two hands behind their back," he added. "If they go down, the taxi companies go down, the consumers will be hurt. Those who don't have credit cards, those who live paycheck to paycheck who needs to go places when TNC's are not going to be around. We hope the mayor has listened to our pleas. We think a meeting down the line will bring the mayor as an advocate for the taxi companies and seize the values of the taxi companies in the City of Buffalo and the community."

No formal meeting between the two parties has been scheduled.

"He has agreed to meet with us again," Boreanaz added.

LISTEN: Attorney Robert Boreanaz

Mayor Brown did not speak to reporters following the closed-door meeting.

Tony Farina from Liberty Cab said the mayor seemed open to the ideas they had to make the playing field more competitive.

"Things can be tweaked to make things fair in the short term," Farina said. "Longer term, it takes legislation from Albany to make the changes really necessary. In the short term, I'd say this was a positive meeting."

One of the proposals as a short-term fix include allowing an increase in prices for "key holiday's" like New Year's Eve.

Bill Yuhnke, the President of Liberty Cab, called it an "interesting meeting".

"We have done a lot of stuff to make changes and stay competitive, some good and some bad," Yuhnke said. "When this all started I had a very difficult choice where I had to lay people off. A lot of people in the taxi industry laid people off during this transition. We took people off the workforce here."

Yuhnke echoed other statements that Mayor Brown was open to their ideas.

"I had to outsource my call center," Yuhnke added. "It was the most difficult decision I've had to make. These are people I've worked with the last 20-25 years. To conserve money and stay in business we outsourced our call center to the Phillippines. We didn't make it public because it was a very sad day for me."

He said that it's extremely difficult for cab companies to compete with Uber and Lyft because of the latter's use of social media.

"They have an army of people where that's all they do," Yuhnke said. "We're in that world today."

One of his biggest complaints in the meeting was the ridesharing sign at Washington and Scott near KeyBank Center.

"(Mayor Brown) was under the impression that that sign said open for everyone to sit there," Yuhnke added. "It doesn't say that. I heard him give direction in that meeting today to make sure that sign says 'Taxi's and Ridesharing'. That's a win."

Cab companies at the meeting included Broadway Taxi, Airport Taxi, and others.

LISTEN: Liberty Cab's Bill Yuhnke speaks with media after the closed-door meeting with Mayor Brown

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