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Cab company says customers, drivers who switched to ride-hailing are coming back

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The owner of a major local taxicab operation says he is fighting back against ride-hailing companies and winning. Liberty Yellow Cab owner Bill Yuhnke says he is seeing customers and drivers coming back to cabs because they are more readily available and have consistent pricing. He says the Buffalo Common Council and Mayor Byron Brown have changed the rules to allow new computerized taxi meters which work off GPS, instead of the old mechanical meters, which aren't made any more.

"We're moving with technology in a different way. We knew that this was coming four or five years down the road and needed to conform to kind of get out of the dinosaur age. Part of it is this new technology will allow and the customer to get email receipts," Yuhnke said.

Yuhnke says one downside of using new technology is that his dispatch center has been moved to the Philippines and local staff have been laid off. At the same time, he says around 90% of calls to his company are done through computers and email, rather than people on the phone.

Yunhke says Tuesday night's Fleetwood Mac concert at KeyBank Center will serve as a test.

"I know that the surge pricing is going to go into effect," he said. "So, when we know there is a major event in the City of Buffalo, don't forget our rates are regulated by the city and you're not going to pay any more."

Yuhnke says he is getting drivers who tried ride-hailing back, many of whom said they weren't making as much money.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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