It’s no secret that the San Francisco taxi industry is facing overwhelming competition from rideshares, like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. But taxi companies are slowly making gains to offer incentives over rideshares in San Francisco.
Among its new efforts are fare reductions and exclusive city perks.
The latest disruption comes from San Francisco Yellow Cab Co-operative, which last week announced it is piloting a $35 flat rate fare to San Francisco International Airport from The City.
Flat rates to airports are common practices in other cities, said Yellow Cab spokesman Bob Cassinelli, but it is the first time Yellow Cab has tried a flat SFO rate in 20 years.
“Are we responding to the competitive environment? Yes,” Cassinelli said.
By comparison, an UberX ride to the airport may cost $30-39, according to the Uber app, without “surge” pricing applied. “UberPool” and Lyft’s “Lyft Line” services allow riders to carpool and share the cost of a ride, nearly cutting the cost in half.
Cassinelli said a rider needs to order the cab to SFO through the Yellow Cab website, or its smartphone app in order to use the SFO deal. The ride can also be booked in advance.
“We’ve been very busy doing things behind the scenes,” Cassinelli said.
Another set of advantages over rideshares cabs pushed for, and won, is a new ban on autos and other vehicles on Market Street. On Aug. 11, Market Street between Third and Eighth streets will only allow Muni, bikes, pedestrians, taxis, commercial and emergency vehicles — no Lyft or Uber vehicles allowed.
That advantage was conveyed not for competitive reasons, but for safety reasons, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors said in June, after they voted to approve the restrictions.
SFMTA also rolled out red taxi and Muni-only lanes over the past year, like the one on O’Farrell between Van Ness and Market. These lanes allow taxis to zip downtown past their competitors.