Central Ohio taxi drivers capitalizing on app-based car services with multiple licenses

Taxi drivers in Ohio's capital city are finding ways to capitalize on the presence of app-based car services.

Some taxi drivers in Columbus are purchasing additional licenses that allow them to work for ridesharing services like Uber, The Columbus Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/1NWPpxP ). The ride service entered the Columbus market about a year ago, and allows riders to summon a car with a smartphone app, track its location and pay with a linked credit card.

Taxi drivers aren't necessarily giving up their cabs, said Thom Ibinson with the Columbus license office, but they're getting additional licenses that allow them to drive for Uber, as well.

Columbus has issued more than 1,275 peer-to-peer licenses for drivers using app-based car services, so far. In 2014, the city licensed 790 taxi drivers.

Last month, figures released by New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission showed Uber cars now outnumber yellow taxis in the city: 14,088 registered Uber cars compared with 13,587 yellow cabs.

Other taxi drivers in Columbus have adjusted their hours to get more business when demand for Uber cars is high and the service initiates "surge pricing."

While Uber fares can increase based on customer demand during rush hours, bad weather or holidays, taxi fares are set by the city and don't change.

Habtesus Ocbazghi said he and other taxi drivers now start shifts in high-traffic areas between 9 and 11 p.m. when Uber rates typically rise.

Jeff Kates, president of Yellow Cab of Columbus, said there's plenty to keep drivers busy, whether they're driving an Uber car or a traditional cab.

"I think the city is growing a little bit," Kates said. "There's more going on in the city, so there's more trips to go around."


Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com