In June 2017, app-based ride-sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, were legalized in Westchester County. Since then, the impact on the taxi-and-limousine industry has been the cause of more than some concern. “I would say calls have gone down 70 percent,” claims Anne Marie Anderson of Annie’s Taxi in Tarrytown. Anderson has a small pool of loyal customers, yet she isn’t sure how much longer she’ll be in business. Demand for airport rides used to be so strong, she would give away three to four requests per day to other car companies. “Now it’s not even once a week” that she does that, says Anderson.
She believes that Uber and Lyft have an unfair advantage because taxi and limousine companies pay licensing fees to the county and undergo mandatory drug testing. Still,
Anderson feels she is luckier than some because her company includes only one car, leaving larger companies to take an even bigger hit.
“It’s just more natural for me to go on my phone, to an app, than look up cab companies, call them and blindly wait for them to come,” says Alexa Perrone of Rockland County, who uses ride-sharing apps while out in White Plains on weekends.
“I would say calls have gone down 70 percent a week.”
—Anne Marie Anderson, Annie’s Taxi, Tarrytown
Mario Mieles, of Great Service Taxi and Limo in Ossining, downsized from two cars to one in the last year.
“I cannot do an Uber price,” says Mieles. He considered switching to Uber but found it cost-prohibitive. “Uber doesn’t take taxi plates, just regular plates. I don’t want to switch the plates or the insurance.”
Not all car companies in Westchester have been quite as adversely affected, however. “We used to do a lot more trips out of the city to Westchester,” says Jeff Nyikos, president of Leros Point to Point, which is headquartered in Valhalla, but Nyikos adds that their corporate travel and premium transport have remained largely unaffected.
Local car companies argue they serve a purpose, catering to people paying cash and those without smartphones while offering personalized customer service. “Uber may work really well in high-density areas,” says Nyikos, “but in some parts of Westchester, that’s not the case. You can’t get an Uber at 5 a.m. north of White Plains.”