New Year’s Eve is among the busiest times of the year for taxi companies, particularly during the late evening and early morning hours of January 1. In recent years, it also has been an expensive evening for customers seeking a ride from transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft, which typically charge 400% and up of normal fares during hours of peak demand. (Read more about TNC surge pricing.)
But this New Year’s Eve, Sacramentans have an easy, affordable alternative to the “surge pricing” implemented by the TNCs: Yellow Cab Company of Sacramento and e-hail provider Flywheel are teaming up to offer customers a ride anywhere in the Sacramento region for a maximum fare of just $10. Here are the details:
- In order to get the $10 maximum fare, customers must reserve and pay for their New Year’s Eve rides via Flywheel’s free, downloadable smartphone app, available at www.yellowcabsacramento.com/SurgeFreeNYE.
- The $10 maximum fare offer is available anywhere in the Sacramento area from 8 p.m. on Dec. 31 through 3 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2015.
“We’re delighted to be able to offer our Yellow Cab customers two great bargains to celebrate the New Year,” said Victor Caballero, director of operations for Yellow Cab Company of Sacramento. “The peace of mind that they won’t have to pay more than $10 for a ride during one of the busiest traffic nights of the year, and the convenience of being able to book their ride through our new partner, Flywheel.”
Flywheel is offering its #SurgeFreeNYE $10 maximum fare on New Year’s Eve in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Seattle, in addition to Sacramento. (Look for the hashtag #SurgeFreeNYE on social media for news and updates.)
Yellow Cab Company of Sacramento will partner with Berg Injury Lawyers once again during the New Year holiday to offer the Free Ride Home program, our way of helping to make our community a little safer during the holiday season.
The Free Ride Home program will be available to Sacramento customers from 10 p.m. on December 31 and 4 a.m. on January 1. Please keep in mind that New Year’s Eve is the busiest night of the year for any transportation service, and Yellow Cab Company of Sacramento is no exception. Because many of our drivers will be out downtown in an effort to meet the expected high demand, we know from experience that wait times for a ride may be longer than usual. You will have the most success by hailing one of our Yellow Cabs the old fashioned-way—with a whistle and a wave. Just tell your driver you want to take advantage of the Free Ride Home.
Remember, only official Yellow Cab Company of Sacramento cabs participate in the Free Ride program—look for the yellow cab with black lettering and our company name and logo.
Here’s how Free Ride Home works:
- In order to qualify for the free ride, the customer must be picked up between 10 p.m. December 31 and 4 a.m. January 1 from a Downtown or Midtown Sacramento restaurant, bar, or other public venue and dropped off at a hotel or residence. (In other words, the purpose is not to transport the customer from home to a bar or from one nightclub to another.)
- Yellow Cab will submit the receipt for your Free Ride Home to Berg Injury Lawyers, who will reimburse Yellow Cab for the cost of the ride, up to a maximum of $35. The passenger will be responsible for any fare and tip that is above $35.
Alameda-based attorney William Berg launched the Safe and Sober Free Cab Ride Home program on St. Patrick’s Day 2004 after years of seeing the pain and suffering caused by alcohol-related accidents in his legal practice. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the cost of losses, injuries and deaths from drunk driving in the United States is some $132 billion per year.
The Free Ride Home program is aimed at reducing the number of accidents caused by driving under the influence and raising community awareness about the need to drink responsibly. Since its inception, the program has provided some 9,000 free rides to Sacramento-area and Bay Area residents. (In the Bay Area, Berg partners with Luxor Cabs to provide the Free Ride Home program.)
And it seems to be working! The Free Ride Home program coincides with a number of other community-based programs, such as sobriety checkpoints and drug and alcohol education, aimed at reducing holiday season car crashes, and the statistics indicate steady progress. From December 28, 2008, through Jan. 4, 2009, 23 Californians were killed in alcohol-related traffic accidents and 440 were injured. During roughly the same period of 2011-2012, there were only 15 alcohol-related traffic deaths and 317 injuries, according to the California Highway Patrol’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS). Keep in mind that the number of drivers on California roadways has grown over the same period—a 6.9 percent increase in California licensed drivers since 2003.
As all of us go about our holiday season celebrations, we hope you will join us in putting the safety and security of our friends, loved ones and fellow Sacramentans first: celebrate responsibly, and reserve a ride rather than getting behind the wheel if you are impaired. We hope you’ll hail us or call us first, or use our handy mobile app. But even if you call someone else… say one of those companies that charges more for a ride during those busy, high-demand holiday evenings… the cost of your ride will be much less than taking a chance with your reputation, your future, or someone’s life.
Dynamic Pricing: The goal of dynamic pricing is to allow a company that sells goods or services over the Internet to adjust prices on the fly in response to market demands.—WhatIs.com
The so-called “ride-share” services, or as the California Public Utilities Commission named them in 2013, Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), use a dynamic pricing model, or “surge pricing.” Under the surge pricing model, when demand for rides is heaviest, say on “party” holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day or New Year’s Eve, at the end of championship ball games, or during wet, cold weather, the price of the ride goes up.
It’s just business, right? Except it’s not just business… at least not on an even playing field.
Unlike TNCs, taxi companies are and historically have been regarded by local government as a public convenience. That’s because taxis are an important component in an area’s public transit system—they provide an essential public service, just as buses, paratransit vans, and light rail trains do.
Because taxis are a public transportation convenience, in Sacramento the rates taxis can charge per mile are set by the city. Just as your water or gas company must have the approval of government regulators to raise your rates for water or heat, taxi drivers are not allowed to raise the cost of your ride home simply because it’s a busy night and lots of people are calling for a taxi. Doing so might be considered akin to “price gouging”: Taking advantage of a certain market condition to make a windfall profit—something publicly regulated services are not allowed to do.
For you, the consumer, the city’s regulation of taxi fares is a real benefit. If you are someone who takes a taxi to the same destination regularly, you know ahead of time how much it’s going to cost you. You don’t have to worry about getting home by a certain time in the evening or avoid traveling during holiday peak hours. It’s going to cost you the same amount, any time you make that same trip, day or night. If you’re an occasional traveler, you figure out after a trip or two how much it costs to get from your home to the airport or the River Cats game, and are able to estimate approximately what it will cost to go a similar distance.
So-called “surge pricing” is a distinct disadvantage to the consumer, as evidenced by the “surge” of customer complaints from all over the U.S. in the wake of Halloween night TNC price surges. (Read more about this here and here.) Even though TNCs placed an alert on customers’ smart phone apps some were still caught unawares or were simply shocked at the size of the price surge, to several times the usual rates—at the very hour that nightclubs were closing, Halloween parties winding down, and Halloween revelers really in need of rides. Those who were fortunate enough to take a taxi—easy to do here in Sacramento with our free, downloadable app for iPhone and Android—rather than a ride-share car found they made it home quickly, safely and only the cost of a normal taxi trip lighter in the wallet. Not a bad way of doing business.
Sacramentans love Halloween, and with the ghoulish holiday falling on a Friday this year, thousands of costumed revelers are expected to converge on Midtown and Downtown night spots to celebrate. Many of them will be attending the 102.5/KSFM’s Gravedigger’s Ball at the Sacramento Convention Center: click here to find out more!
We at Yellow Cab Company of Sacramento wish everyone a Boooo-tiful Halloween and remind all our friends and customers to party responsibly. Once again this year, Yellow Cab will partner with Berg Injury Lawyers to provide a Free Ride Home for any spooks and spookettes who are not up to driving “safe and sober.”
From 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. on Halloween night, Friday, Oct. 31, thanks to the generosity of Berg Injury Lawyers, Yellow Cab Sacramento will offer Free Rides Home from clubs and restaurants (or from the Gravedigger’s Ball) in the Midtown/Downtown Sacramento area to residences. Berg Injury Lawyers will pay the first $35 of any Yellow Cab fare; if the fare exceeds $35, the patron will be responsible for paying the balance. Please note: This is not a motorized pub crawl… the offer is good only for trips from a club or restaurant to a residence—not from one drinking establishment to another. We also ask that you remove your mask or face covering while in the cab, for the protection of our drivers.
We at Yellow Cab wish everyone a frightfully fun Halloween and a safe one. Book your “Safe and Sober” Free Ride Home with our free app for Android or iPhone, or call us at 916-444-2222.
We at Yellow Cab Company of Sacramento are quite proud of the people who drive for us—we think they are among the best taxi drivers in the Sacramento region. What most people don’t realize is that our drivers are independent contractors and not Yellow Cab employees. That’s right—we are not in the taxicab business; our drivers are in the taxicab business.
We currently have 104 drivers, including 21 who are owner-operators. Most of our drivers lease their cabs from our fleet. We inspect, insure and maintain each vehicle, making sure it complies with state and city regulations.
The owner-operators own and maintain their own vehicles but have them finished in our official Yellow Cab colors and company branding. We inspect and insure the operator-owned vehicles just as we do our leased vehicles.
All of our drivers must meet certain criteria in order to drive for Yellow Cab:
• Drivers must be at least 25 years of age.
• Drivers must have driven for three years in the United States.
• Drivers must have a good driving record.
• Drivers must pass a criminal background check.
• Drivers must complete an orientation.
All of our drivers, including owner-operators, complete a multi-part orientation that includes two hours of classroom instruction on our computerized trip reservation system, use of our downloadable app, and customer service best practices; completion of the Taxi Limousine & Paratransit Association online course and multiple-choice test, and a one- to two-day drive-along with one of our experienced and trusted drivers.
As a result of this comprehensive orientation process, there are no bad drivers at Yellow Cab Co. of Sacramento. In fact, our driver orientation process may become a model for the City of Sacramento, which is considering a requirement that all taxi drivers permitted by the city complete a comparable orientation. Yellow Cab takes driver safety and excellent customer service seriously. In turn our drivers take pride in the Yellow Cab brand and in the valuable public service they provide in our community.
We are proud of all our Yellow Cab drivers… and we’re always looking for more friendly, courteous drivers with spotless driving records. If you or someone you know fits that description and has an interest in driving for Sacramento’s largest and longest-serving cab company, contact Greig Best at (916) 442-4696, ext. 3023, or firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!
One pearl of wisdom that we’ve picked up after being in business in Sacramento for nearly 100 years is that competition is healthy: It’s good for the economy; it’s good for the consumer; and it’s good for the companies that are competing. There is nothing like a worthy competitor to keep a company sharp, on the alert for ways it can operate more efficiently, more effectively and provide better service to customers.
Sacramento News & Review recently ran a feature article called “Ride Wars,” examining the operations of two local so-called “rideshare” companies and an unidentified “taxi” to evaluate which of the three transportation providers performed best. Although the article doesn’t name Yellow Cab Company of Sacramento, it seems clear from the article and from our own computerized reservation system that we are the “taxi” company being compared.
All in all, we at Yellow Cab found the article to be well-written, fair and objective. It highlighted some areas where we can do better, as well some areas in which we did very well. The most interesting part to us was a sidebar, written by Nick Miller, called “A Fare Challenge,” describing what happened when three SNR reporters simultaneously ordered rides with Uber, Lyft, and Yellow Cab Company of Sacramento. The verdict: Yellow Cab was “slower and pricier”—by $1—“but the most professional.”
All three reporters/customers set out to reserve trips from the intersection of I and 21st in Midtown Sacramento to S and 17th.
Looking back through the log of our computerized reservation system, we were able to identify the initial phone call and the trip in our system. The call from the reporter/customer came in to the Yellow Cab office at 5:07 p.m., and, according to our system, he was placed on hold for three minutes before speaking with our telephone dispatcher. The 5 p.m. rush hour period is one of our busiest times for trip reservations, and we staff up accordingly in an effort to keep wait times at a minimum. The dispatcher who took this call was friendly and helpful; when the customer was unable to provide a pickup address, she asked him for a nearby business and looked the address up for him.
The reporter/customer, understandably, was not happy to wait on hold to book his trip. We might have saved him the aggravation and a few minutes of his valuable time had he downloaded our free, easy mobile reservation app. As Miller wrote, “To be fair, there is a taxi app—but who knew?” We’re working hard to let people know about our free, downloadable app for iPhone or Android devices, but obviously we still have work to do! (Just visit http://www.yellowcabsacramento.com/ and click on the Google Play or Apple App Store button to download the app.)
Our SNR reporter/customer’s trip was dispatched to one of our veteran drivers, who showed up for the trip in a “sharp-looking yellow Toyota Prius,” according to the article. The customer reported “a quick, smooth ride” with “the air conditioner was piping nicely.” The only snag came when the driver’s newly installed credit card failed to read the customer’s debit card, twice.
Despite that snag and the fact that our dispatch time lagged the two “rideshare” brands, there was much in our performance that was positive. As Miller, who booked a trip with the “rideshare” competitor that clocked in fastest, wrote: “Did my driver, who clearly was not vetted by the company, even have a license or auto insurance? How would I even know?”
We’re grateful to SNR and its reporters for their unbiased appraisal of the three competitors and for the lessons it offers for how we can do better next time. We need to do all we can to cut telephone wait times for those who reserve trips by phone. More importantly, we need to let people know they can use our easy, free mobile app to book their trips. And we were reminded how important it is to be sure that our drivers’ technology is working—customers want, need and deserve the convenience of credit card payment.
Just as important as learning how we can improve is learning what we’re doing right. We were quite proud to read of the professional way our dispatcher and the driver handled this trip. They didn’t know when they took this call and accepted this trip that their performance would be dissected in the pages of the local alternative newspaper. But they did what all of us affiliated with Yellow Cab Co. of Sacramento strive to do every day just the same: They did their jobs, the right way.
Back in the late 1950s, our company office was located at 1112 I Street in downtown Sacramento. For many years, we had a company pet, a black mutt called “Union,” named after our company’s previous name, Union Taxi.
Union spent a lot of time in the Yellow Cab shop and made friends all over downtown. Every now and then, we’d see him walking down the sidewalk alongside a perfect stranger. Every few days Union would walk the half block to 12th and I streets, where there was at that time a neighborhood tavern called Rose’s Bar and Grill. Union didn’t have pockets, so he never had any money. But we suspected every now and then that some of the patrons might buy him a beer. My dad went down one time to see what Union was up to, and the bartender said, “Fred, I have to serve everybody that walks in.” Whenever my dad came home with Union, the first thing the dog did was jump out of the car, run to the backyard, and dive into the pool. He loved the water.
Union lived a good long life, and one day, sometime around 1960, he died of natural causes. The Yellow Cab drivers had grown so fond of him, they told my dad that we should hold a funeral for him. So we did. We bought a small casket for Union, and a 40-cab procession carried him out to the Sacramento Pet Cemetery on Gerber Road to be laid to rest. It was such an unusual occurrence that we even made the Channel 10 news. A few years ago, we went out to the pet cemetery, and Union’s headstone is still there.
Yellow Cab Sacramento is now located on busy Richards Boulevard, and we no longer have a company pet. But Union made a lot of friends for Yellow Cab, gave our employees and drivers a lot of enjoyment, and played an important role in the success of our company. RIP, Union.
Our Facebook friend Darla Arreola wrote last week to share a wonderful story about Yellow Cab. Her mom and dad met when her dad was a Yellow Cab driver in the 1950s. “That’s how my dad and mom met; he was a cabby, and she was a passenger. That was 1954 and they married in 1954. I was born in 1955. Love Yellow. He worked there till he passed in 1961.”
Darla’s story is wonderful because it is so similar to my story. My father started driving in 1938 and did so until he was drafted into the Army Air Force in January of 1942. After the war, he went to work for Union Taxi (which later became our company, Yellow Cab Co. of Sacramento).
My mother worked as a phone operator for Pacific Telephone at 14th and J. In those days, Pacific Telephone used taxis as a safety precaution to transport their female operators home if they worked nights. Taxi drivers would transport three or four operators home as a shared ride to their prospective homes and were required to wait until the female operators were inside their homes and safe. Violation of this policy would likely have resulted in the taxi driver being prohibited from working the Pacific Telephone account.
One evening in early 1946, my dad picked up my mother and two other girls who had worked the night shift as operators. My mom caught my dad’s eye, and he asked her out. The courtship was not long, as was often the case in those days. They were married later in 1946, and I was born in December of 1948. I was later joined by two sisters and a brother. My dad went on to own Yellow Cab (and Union Taxi) in 1960. Our parents were married until my mother’s death in January 1994, which saddened Dad for the rest of his life.
Thank you for your story, Darla. It is possible that I might have known your dad. I started cleaning restrooms at the cab company and washing taxis during the summer of 1960. (Not by choice!) My brother and I were dragged down to the Yellow Cab offices, then located at 1112 I Street, and put to work. I was only 11 or 12 at the time, but I knew a lot of the drivers—perhaps even your dad! I guess you could say, Darla, if it weren’t for Yellow Cab, we might never have been a gleam in our fathers’ eyes!
Not long after our dad bought his first cab in 1946 for the company then known as Skyline Taxi, he was very proud to be the first cab operator in the Sacramento region to introduce 2-way radio dispatching. More than 20 years ago, our dad’s company, now known as Yellow Cab Co. of Sacramento, introduced the first 24-hour, computer-assisted dispatch system to this area.
We’ve come a long ways since then. Today our customers can either download our easy-to-use mobile app for both Android and iPhones or visit our website to book a trip online. The advantage of our computerized dispatch system is that as soon as the customer inputs the trip, the computer goes to work matching that trip with the available drivers located closest to the customer’s pick-up location: no sitting on hold, no dispatcher approval needed to get started finding the customer a ride.
When you install our mobile application on your phone, it will ask you to enter some information such as your name and phone number. Once the application is installed, you just open it up, click on the yellow button to be picked up at your current location, or enter a different pick-up address, your drop-off location, and the date and time you want to be picked up. The system automatically knows your current location via the GPS system in your phone.
If you are at your desk or laptop, you can book a trip right from our website at yellowcabsacramento.com in much the same way as our mobile app. From the Home Page, just click on the yellow and blue Book Online button in the top right-hand corner, then enter your name, phone number and email address, type in the little code to prove you are not a machine, and hit Submit. On the next screen enter the address where you want to be picked up, the address where you want to be dropped off, how you will pay the driver (i.e., cash or credit card), and the number of passengers. You also can check a box to preschedule a time and date for your trip. As soon as you complete the trip information, click on “Save Request.” At the bottom of the screen you will see an estimated distance for your trip and the estimated fare. As soon as you hit “Save,” our computerized dispatch system gets to work matching your trip to the nearest available driver. You don’t need to enter any credit card information—you won’t pay until your driver has arrived and your trip is completed.
On our end, the computer immediately offers your trip to the first available driver in the queue who is near your pick-up location; if for some reason, that driver is not able to take the trip, the system offers it to next nearby, available driver and so on. On the rare occasion no match is made within five minutes, our system makes your trip available to all 100-plus drivers in our fleet. With our mobile ap, you will be able to see your trip status, whether it is waiting for an available driver, or your driver is en route.
Just as our dad was proud to be the first Sacramento taxi company to use radio dispatching, we at Yellow Cab Co. of Sacramento are proud of our computerized dispatch system and its ability to get our customers where they need to go in the quickest, most efficient way. Of course we still offer a 24-hour telephone dispatch service, and our dispatchers are always happy to receive your call. But if you haven’t tried our on-line booking system, we hope you will give it a try! Ordering a taxi has never been faster and easier!
Everyone knows that driving a vehicle that gets good gas mileage is beneficial to the environment. At Yellow Cab Company of Sacramento, we’ve discovered that trading to more fuel-efficient, earth-friendly vehicles is also a boost to our company’s and our drivers’ bottom line.
When most people think of a “Yellow Cab,” they picture a large four-door sedan, often the Ford Crown Victorias similar to those traditionally favored by police departments throughout the United States. These sturdy workhorses have the advantage of roomy backseats and good mechanical reliability over time. On the downside, however, their gas mileage is typically about 16 or 17 miles per gallon. Gas prices fluctuate, but, as you no doubt have noticed, the general trend over time is up, and that’s not likely to change any time soon. Higher prices at the pump make it harder for our drivers to make a profit.
Our fleet comprises 114 vehicles total right now, including six that are owned and operated by the cab drivers, and one more owner-operated Scion on deck. Over the past five years, as part of our normal cycle of replacing older vehicles, Yellow Cab has begun phasing out our Crown Vics and replacing them with hybrid and higher-fuel efficiency Toyota Prius hybrids, Scion xBs, and 4-cylinder Toyota Camrys. We just got in four new Priuses this week! Currently we have 26 Priuses, plus two new ones that are not yet outfitted as cabs; 47 Scions; and 10 Camrys. The remaining vehicles in the fleet are five ADA accessible vans, one Mazda5 and one owner-operated Caravan. With these new Prius additions we’ll be left with just 24 of the Crown Vics, and we hope to replace all or most of them by the end of 2014.
The Prius, which combines a conventional internal combustion engine (burning gasoline) with an electric propulsion system, is the best-selling hybrid in the world and gets about 50 mpg, city and highway driving combined. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board (CARB) rate the Prius as “among the cleanest vehicles sold in the United States based on smog-forming emissions.”
And the Prius’ gas mileage record keeps getting better. Toyota executive Satoshi Ogiso told Autoblog.com last year that each successive generation of Prius has improved fuel economy by about 10%. At that rate the 2015 model Priuses are expected to get about 55 mpg—good news for motorists and for Mother Earth.
The Scion xBs and Camrys also have helped our drivers cut fuel costs, with the Scions getting 24 to 29 mpg, the Camrys 23 to 27 mpg. The Scions also have a roomy backseat for passengers and good cargo space. Consumer Reports has rated its reliability as “outstanding,” and it’s known as a safe vehicle, winning the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick six years in a row.
No doubt in coming years we will see technology improve and costs of that technology go down, and other alternative fuel sources may be developed as well. In the meantime, we at Yellow Cab are committed to continuing our efforts to reduce the fuel use, and the “carbon footprint,” of our fleet. It’s the right thing to do for our families and our community, and it makes good business sense for our drivers and our company, too.