Uber, Lyft impact cab companies in the Chippewa Valley - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Uber, Lyft impact cab companies in the Chippewa Valley

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - -

It's been almost a year since ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft launched here in Eau Claire. And today, local cab companies are feeling that impact.

Companies like Town and Country Taxi, Limo Cab, Mr. Cab and American Cab have noticed drops in revenue.

Matthew Henson of Mr. Cab estimated a 20 percent drop in cash sales. Jay McNulty of Town and Country Taxi estimated a 30 percent drop in sales for Friday and Saturday nights.

Not only are cabs seeing a decrease in revenue. Mr. Cab lost a driver due to slow business. Others have seen a decrease in the number of calls and customers.

"I noticed it the most at the Eaux Claires festival, and especially at Country Jam. A lot of us cab drivers and other companies were kind of sitting around when usually we would be moving a lot that time of year, especially with the fests," said Shawn Beottcher of The Ride Jam Taxi.

"I think it has a lot to do with Uber and Lyft. I think that they're getting a lot of people trying them out. I don't know if maybe it's just a fad right now or if people like it. I know with cab you can pay with cash. With Uber, you can't. So, we kind of have an advantage there for people," Beottcher said. 

News 18 also spoke with a Lyft driver to find out just how busy he was.

"When I was approved, I hit the road," said Lyft driver Duncan Cameron. "Business was not picking up real quick at first. A lot of people found us just by chance. Just trying us out and seeing if we were out here. As word has spread though, it's become very popular."

Uber and Lyft don't require drivers to have a commercial license or commercial insurance to operate in the city.

Drivers with American Cab says this fails to generate money within Eau Claire. McNulty isn't bothered by this, but Henson said, "I don't mind having competition, as long as they playing field is fair across the board."

"I, myself, have chosen to take out commercial insurance for what I do. I want to make sure that if anything were to happen, that not only myself, but my passengers are taken care of," said Cameron.

Cameron says that sometimes it's hard to find a gap to log off for the day and that weekends are most popular.

"I don't know if they are going to be more popular than cabs," said Cameron. "They might already be, in fact. I think what's more interesting is the trend in younger people to simply not even drive. So, there is a naturally growing demand for our services."

News 18 spoke with a few passengers as well, about their travel preferences.

"I'd say that, just because that there's an app for it, you can look for the car instead of trying to hail a cab. You don't know if that cab's on duty or not," said Eric Weltzien.

"When you are calling for a cab, it's a lot longer of a process too. And I don't really think many people our age have actually needed rides until these apps started coming about," said UW-Eau Claire student, Makayla Chandler.

Though business hasn't decreased for every cab company in town; The Ride Jam Taxi told News 18 that customers are still steady into the new year. 

"It's been pretty busy since the first of the year and everything," Beottcher said. "It's going pretty good, cold weather is keeping us busy." 

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