Luxor has operated in San Francisco since 1928, and is among its oldest still-operating cab companies. (Mike Koozmin/2011 S.F. Examiner)

Luxor cabs receive legacy business status

Luxor Cab Company is now officially part of San Francisco history.

The San Francisco Historic Preservation Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to add Luxor Cab Co. to The City’s Legacy Business Registry, ensuring the longtime cab company will get a needed boost during a hard time for the taxi industry.

Luxor has operated in San Francisco since 1928, and is among its oldest still-operating cab companies, according to its application to the legacy business registry. It has a fleet of 162 cabs, and is owned by a group of shareholders rather than a single owner.

At the meeting, Commissioner Ellen Johnck said she was especially moved to vote for Luxor because of its ties to the community.

And, she said, because she lives in such an obscure part of The City, “I have to say, Luxor, you’re the only [transportation company] that knew where I lived!”

Supervisor Jane Kim nominated Luxor as a legacy business. With the registration comes a $500 per-employee annual grant, which is offered to help long-time San Francisco businesses fight against displacement.

Cab drivers themselves are not defined as employees, so Luxor will receive the grant only for its 20 or so full-time office employees, its representatives told the San Francisco Examiner.

“I feel rewarded, really,” said John Lazar, president of Luxor, especially due to the company’s decades-long history of helping wheelchair users get around town.

Lazar’s own mother was disabled near the end of her life, and he bought a specially designed van equipped with wheelchair loading equipment to help her with transportation. It occurred to him that it should be part of the taxi business, he said.

Luxor was among the earliest cab companies in the state, and Lazar claims in the country, to have a wheelchair fleet. To this day, Luxor makes 1,200 trips with one of its six wheelchair-equipped vans for wheelchair users a month, he said.

By contrast, he said, neither Uber nor Lyft run wheelchair-equipped vehicles.

“I wanted to help people,” he said.

Luxor also had the only woman president of a major taxicab company in 1988, a former bookkeeper named Mary A. Warner, according to Luxor.

Speaking about his family’s own history with the cab company, Lazar said he remembered bygone decades when his dad was in charge. “My dad wouldn’t hire anybody if you had sideburns past your ears … or weren’t polite to ladies.”

And as far back as the 1960’s, Lazar said, “we used to have cabs with water bumpers in the front and back, that would reduce the impact” from collisions.

Though many nowadays may point to Uber, Lyft and other ride-hail companies as technological innovators, Lazar said Luxor started computerized dispatching in 1999.

Back then, the company saw a peak of 3,500 pickups per day. Nowadays, in the face of stiff competition from less-regulated ride-hails, the company sees about 1,200.

In a time when the taxi industry is surrounded by doom and gloom, Lazar said he saw the legacy business designation as a seldom seen time for cabs nowadays:

A cause to celebrate.

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