Another major taxi company has been sold in The City, and will soon become part of a taxi consolidation that hopes to boost the industry citywide.
Formed in 1928, Luxor Cab Co. was officially enshrined in San Francisco’s historical lexicon as a legacy business in 2016. Now, one of its competitors, Citywide Taxi, is in the process of purchasing the assets of the historic company in a bid to reclaim some of the business lost to tech rivals Uber and Lyft, leadership at both companies confirmed to the San Francisco Examiner.
The price of the purchase was not disclosed, and none of the liability will be assumed, according to both companies. The move will see some 140 taxi cabs join the fold at Citywide, which also acquired Yellow Cab Co-Op for $400,000 in March last year after Yellow declared bankruptcy.
That’s all part of the plan, according to Citywide CEO Chris Sweis.
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Soon, Citywide, Luxor and Yellow Cab’s combined 642 cabs will all be repainted the iconic yellow color of San Francisco’s most well-known cab company — and all will become one entity.
“My desire is we can consolidate a bulk of the industry,” Sweis told the Examiner. “We will eventually unite. It’s just a matter of when.”
Though a firm date has not yet been decided, Sweis said, the unification will also come with new technology for drivers, as well as a new taxi app for consumers. Taxi drivers for the new unified Yellow will still use Flywheel, Sweis said, which is a taxi-only app alternative to Uber and Lyft.
“My feeling is taxicabs have not fought back on the technology front at all,” he said. “Flywheel has done a good job. But we want to take the latest technology to taxi cabs.”
Though Uber and Lyft continue to dominate the local transportation industry, 23 cab companies remain in San Francisco, according to the according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
The merger would solidify Yellow Cab’s position as the largest taxi company in San Francisco. The next largest competitor, Flywheel Taxi, has a fleet of 239 cabs, according to the SFMTA.
Acquiring Luxor’s fleet also may bolster Yellow Cab’s ability to provide wheelchair services for people with disabilities who require wheelchair ramps, which Luxor Cab is famous in the taxi industry for providing.
Between December 2015 and November 2016, there were 12,921 total ramp taxi trips taken in San Francisco — 7,582 of those were made by Luxor, as the Examiner previously reported.
Uber and Lyft do not have vast numbers of ramp-equipped wheelchair vehicles, though Uber has dipped its toes into a local pilot involving a handful of wheelchair-equipped vehicles.
Sweis said his father began Royal Taxi in the 1980s. Shortly after Sweis took over in 2008, the company acquired Citywide’s dispatch service and integrated the companies.
“We’re a family-run business,” Sweis said.
The same can be said of Luxor, which was founded in 1928. With a fleet of 10 cars, it was one of the first cab companies in San Francisco. William G. Lazar became president of Luxor in 1948, and the company is now operated by his son, John Lazar.
Though John Lazar will stay on with the company for a time through the transition, he will retire soon after, he told the Examiner.
“I’m 65,” and Sweis, at 37-years-old, is young and innovative, Lazar said. “I think he’s got the technology thing” ready, to compete with ride-hails.”
Still, cabs are Lazar’s life.
“It’s a hard thing,” he said. “I’m going to miss it terribly.”