Pitchfork Press

Cronkite Summer Journalism Institute 2012

It Isn’t Easy Being a Taxi

Many people in downtown Phoenix use the light rail, bus system or cars, but what about cabs?

Taxis near US Airways stadium.

The image of a yellow taxicab is one closely associated with metropolises. Although Phoenix is the 6th-largest city in America, taxis appear to be less prominent.

While major U.S. cities auction off “taxi medallions”— specific licenses that give people the right to own taxis, the Valley is filled with multiple cab service companies.

Whether it’s VIP Taxi, Discount Cab, Sunrise Cab, or one of the many other choices, Valley residents have options when it comes to choosing their taxi service.

However, they also have options when it comes to choosing a form of transportation.

Bobbie Valley, downtown Phoenix resident, “used to [take taxis] for many years,” but when the light rail was constructed, she switched over.

“It’s more inexpensive and convenient,” she explained.

A female light rail passenger, who asked not to be named, has had close experience with taxis. She was sick for some time and needed to take a taxi every day.

“It cost about $50 a day,” she recalled.

The routine taxi rides added up. However, she said, “A lot of employees give a monthly or yearly pass for taking the light rail,” including the law firm she works at.

Jared, a 32-year-old student at ASU, admitted that he’s never taken a taxi before.

Since he lives in Buckeye, taking a taxi to commute would be “unreasonable.”

Plus, Jared said, “I like to drive; it’s my favorite thing to do.”

Although the light rail provides competition for taxi services, not everyone is worried.

Jose, a representative for AAA Yellow Cab expressed confidence.

Even at times of rising gas prices, “some customers don’t feel like filling up,” explained Jose.

He pointed to the large amount of regulars for the company’s success and said the division between airport and city customers is fairly even.

Moreover, AAA Yellow Cab receives “a few new customers a day,” according to Jose.

Whether or not these new customers will sustain the business can only be determined by time.

-Lindsey Bressler, Local Editor

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