DUBUQUE – The popular ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft recently announced they are coming to Dubuque.
While Lyft has already started services, Uber is still working on finding drivers.
While many people are excited for these new additions, taxi service owners are nervous about what it could do to their businesses.
“I think it’ll hurt us,” said Mark Lightcap, owner of Starlight Taxi here in Dubuque.
Starlight Taxi has been around for 25 years, but Uber and Lyft are posing a threat to the long-time success of Lightcap’s company.
Uber and Lyft’s fare for a single ride is slightly cheaper on average than a ride from Starlight Taxi.
However, Lightcap stands firm behind the fact that Starlight has “one rate and one rate only” as opposed to the prices surges during peak travel hours that Uber and Lyft utilize.
But Lightcap isn’t the only one worried. Brett Hahlen, the owner of #1 Green Cab, is also concerned about Uber and Lyft coming to town.
“It will take a percentage of local business away,” he mentioned.
#1 Green Cab holds a big share of the taxi market in Dubuque. But that market is getting even more crowded.
For those that don’t know, Uber and Lyft are alternatives to typical taxi services. Anyone can download the app and request a ride. Drivers use their own cars, come to your location, and take you to where you need to go, often for cheaper than a normal taxi.
Uber and Lyft share several similarities. Both offer the same basic ride options, meaning you have the option of hailing a car or a larger vehicle such as an SUV. Also, both companies take about the same amount of time to come pick you up.
The majority of Lyft and Uber drivers actually work for both companies.
The differences between the two services are small. On average, Lyft prices are only slightly higher than Uber’s. Uber has been around longer and is available in more places, but Lyft makes up for that difference with a greater focus on customer service.
With that in mind, I wanted to see what the hub-bub was all about. So, I called a Lyft, and got to know driver Tim Flynn on my way around the city.
“That Thursday, I went online that night and started the process to become a driver,” said Flynn. “I actually did my first drive on Saturday.”
Flynn holds a regular 9-5, but started driving for Lyft to make extra cash. He’s only given a few rides so far, but he loves it.
Flynn’s optimistic about the impact Lyft and Uber will have on the community.
“I think this good for Dubuque. We’re a small town, but we’re trying to get a big town feel.”
But while the slightly cheaper prices might allure some customers, owners such as Lightcap and Hahlen are ready to stand by their businesses.
For Hahlen, it comes down to supporting small business owners and employees that live in Dubuque.
“I can’t really sway anybody’s opinion,” he said, “but I would urge people to use your local businesses that don’t take revenue and money out of Dubuque.”
Hopeful Uber-riders can plan to grab a ride at the end of March when the service officially launches in Dubuque.
Ben Friedman is an anchor and associate producer for LCTV News. He is a sophomore at Loras College from Ankeny, Iowa. Ben enjoys LCTV because it gives him an opportunity to combine creativity and storytelling in a way that helps him provide value to his community.