Taxi Driver Does Pay What You Want… And It Works

from the funny-that... dept

We recently wrote about successful taxi cab operators offering free service in Tampa, Florida (pissing off existing cab companies), and it appears that the idea is spreading somewhat. Matt Cruse alerts us to a story in Essex, Vermont, involving a guy offering “pay what you want” taxi rides, and finding that people are always willing to pay a reasonable rate. Now, I’ll admit that I’m not a huge fan of “pay what you want” models, which seem more like give it away and pray, rather than having a real business model worked out (which makes me wonder if it’s sustainable long term). But, in the meantime, it’s certainly yet another example that “free,” can be a useful tool as a part of a business model.

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Comments on “Taxi Driver Does Pay What You Want… And It Works”

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Chucklebutte (profile) says:

id bet with human guilt, pay what you think is fair model would result in people actually paying more than it would cost normally.

think about taking a “pay what you think” taxi cab with a date, im sure you would shell out more than than the actual cost of a normal taxi ride just not to look like a shmuck.

not to mention how many of us know the exact distance traveled? if you take a taxi the meter is running and you can see it, you know what you need to pay based on the cabs fares. so not knowing this information coupled with guilt, i bet that taxi cab driver does alright.

Matt says:

Re: Re:

I’m Actually From Essex, Vermont, and they had this guy on the radio here. He said that he usually does make more money on the “pay what you want” ride than a normal ride, but realize it is only pay what you want on the sixth ride, even at that its like a coffee shop stamp card, He is probably making enough on the other 5 rides to cover the costs / risks of pay what you want.

Guilt definitely plays a large role in it as well, Our town is small enough that you can probably at least recognize if not know by name half the people you see driving through town.

Ha - Progress says:

I hop this guy drives the other cabbies out of business. I live in a resort community taht is nearly 2 hours from the major airport. Resort owners have been trying, with the town, to get a high speed rail installed for the last 10 years. They figured it is a better option than widening the highway, which will NEED to happen, to accommodate the ever increasing tourists, Who’s fighting it? The A****** cab companies, who are afraid they will become irrelevant. They need to ADAPT, or get out of the way, not block a project that will create employment, and benefit both the airport, and the resorts.
Lead, follow, or get the F*** out of the way.

Another AC says:

In Boston Near Fenway Park

There are Bicycle Chariot Drivers that do this for the people that dont want to pay $50+ for parking. They dont charge anything but gladly accept tips, they have been there everytime I have gone to a game and from what they have said they do pretty well. I tipped them 10 bucks for about 10 minutes worth of work when my dad did not want to walk the 5-10 blocks. They are very nice and try to get you excited for the game too.

Another AC says:

Re: Re: In Boston Near Fenway Park

Thanks for the tip, I don’t know Boston all that well, usually when I see parking right near Fenway it is 40-50-60 dollars, so I park at the prudential for $15 with game ticket and walk.

I was pretty surprised when I asked how much those bicycle guys charge and they said they just work for tips. I have seen them with quite a bit of weight in the back of one of those. hell they could keep a small scale and charge per pound

hegemon13 says:

Depends on the availability

This seems like a great idea in a city where cabs are plentiful and cab drivers frequently find themselves with empty seats. However, in many cities, cabs are a scarcity, so the “pay what you want” model does not make a lot of sense to me. This is an example where the operator is already selling a scarcity, so why give it away?

Alan Gerow (profile) says:

More than likely this is a method to skirt Florida’s taxi laws.

There was a story about a year ago about an old man who gave a ride to a young lady at a super market. At the end of the ride, the lady asked how much the man wanted for the ride. The man protested, and the lady insisted. He tossed a number, $5. She paid him, and he was then promptly arrested for running an illegal taxi service.

It appears if the guy in this articles charges ANYTHING, even the exact cost of gas consumed in giving someone a ride, then he would qualify as a taxi service with all the legal hoops that go along with entering that market.

Now, by not asking for any money at any time, and functioning entirely off of the donation of riders, he can possibly sidestep any licensing requirements for taxi services, keeping his bottom line down & not having to bow to regulatory forces.

So, more than likely, it’s not so much a “pray” situation … but a situation to avoid becoming government “prey”.

Alan Gerow (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I refer more to licensing requirements that limit the number of taxi cabs to an artificial supply cap, government-mandated rate charges to limit competitive advantages, and legal requirements that specifically apply to running a taxi service.

What you mention, liability insurance, vehicle inspection, safety requirements, etc, and those go along with vehicle registration. Not taxi service licensing requirements, so you’re taking my argument against taxi licensing and applying an argument against vehicle registration.

You’ve obviously taken debate classes designed for politicians:

(1) find a sentence in your opponents argument (any sentence will do, as you aren’t going to actually talk to it)
(2) misinterpret every aspect of what the person is saying
(3) argue a completely different point than your opponent was even talk about (bonus points if you work in reference to morality or children)
(4) ???
(5) profits!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Wow,the things you don’t know.

Did you know that in many states, taxis are just ordinary street cars without special licenses or other requirements to be on the road, but do require a special “permit license” from the city/ county / state / whatever to operate?

Did you know that in many places, taxis are subject to much stricter mandatory inspections than street cars?

Did you know that normal liablity insurance isn’t enough to cover liablity for operating a taxi?

So, 1, who cares, 2, don’t have to, you missed the point, 3, your momma!, 4, !!! and 5, no profits, it’s free.

Alan Gerow (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Did you know that in many states, taxis are just ordinary street cars without special licenses or other requirements to be on the road, but do require a special “permit license” from the city/ county / state / whatever to operate?”

But I mentioned specifically FLORIDA’s taxi licensing requirements which is reference to the first link with the free taxi, which I cross-referenced with another story involving someone being arrested for giving someone a ride and asking for $5 when pressed. Which has nothing to do with any of those other states. So, talk all you want about other places, because that’s the point … I wasn’t.

If you want to get back to the point instead of trying to talk me into a corner by arguing about other places than the one I was speaking to, feel free to go on, but since I’ve been addressing a single state, I will continue to do so and ignore all your other irrelevant chatter about other places.

“Did you know that in many places, taxis are subject to much stricter mandatory inspections than street cars?”

Those states don’t matter, because I was talking about Florida, where one of the people mentioned in the article was running a free taxi service. And it seems irrelevant anyway, as the regular motor vehicle will need to pass inspections to be street legal … why would greater inspections be required for a passenger that gives the driver a couple dollars over a friend sitting in the back-seat?

“Did you know that normal liablity insurance isn’t enough to cover liablity for operating a taxi?”

While Florida does have increased insurance requirements for taxis, I don’t necessarily think it’s a good thing. So, insurance is still required to operate a motor vehicle that would cover liability for operating a car … it’s less than if specified as a taxi, which I don’t think is a bad thing. So, I see it as a big deal as insurance is still required … it’s just not as high. If my friend in back-seat is going to be covered by insurance in case of an accident, I don’t see why anything different needs to be applied to a passenger giving the driver a couple bucks voluntarily.

So those “pesky things” still exist whether or not this person has a taxi license.

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