City Cab to close after almost 80 years

LEWISTON — The community's familiar black and yellow cabs will soon be parked to stay.

City Cab closing
Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

A City Cab Company cab heads down Bardwell Street in Lewiston after dropping off a fare Wednesday morning. The company will be closing it's doors this coming weekend.

City Cab, which has been collecting fares since 1932, is scheduled to shut down at the end of the night Saturday.

Owner Daniel Leonas said the longtime company, based in a garage on Avon Street in Lewiston, has been hurt by the economy and city-run alternatives.

"The Twin Cities are no longer a viable taxicab community with major competition from all the non-profit social service transit options and the free and subsidized public bus fares being provided within Lewiston and Auburn," Leonas said Wednesday in a prepared statement.

"In combination with the economy, I find it is no longer an option to provide affordable taxicab service to the community while maintaining our professional dispatch center," he said.

Leonas notified City Hall of the closure on Monday.

"After 80 years, we are sad to say that the family business will no longer exist," he said in an email to City Administrator Edward Barrett.

City Cab is the last of the radio-dispatched cab companies in the city and the largest, with six cars licensed in Lewiston.

In all, 58 people are licensed to drive taxis in the city. Five other cab companies are currently licensed to operate here: Baagey Taxicab of Lewiston, Five Stars Taxi of Auburn, L&A Cab Service of Auburn, Lisbon Taxi Co. of Lisbon Falls and Tri-Town Taxi of Lewiston, City Clerk Kathy Montejo said. 

More cab companies will likely sink unless profit margins rise, Matt Boyington, owner of Tri-Town Taxi, said.

"I'm just trying to hang on and not go more into debt," Boyington said. 

He started his company 14 years ago in Lisbon but moved to Lewiston several years ago in search of more riders.

They appear sometimes.

"For the first week of the month, I've got enough calls to make my money," Boyington said, referring to the arrival of welfare money. "By the end of the month, too many people can't afford six or seven bucks to ride across town."

Meanwhile, fuel costs have been difficult to manage and ill-repaired streets force him to make costly repairs to his cars, he said.

Boyington has two cars currently on the road.

"I have to rebuild the entire front ends twice a year," he said. He can only afford those repairs because he and a friend do the work themselves.

It's uncertain what the absence of City Cab will mean to people who use them for doctor appointments, often with so-called "med passes." The cab company was the only one in the community that accepted the vouchers.

Boyington said he would consider taking on voucher customers, but it needs to pay for itself.

"I've got to do it for a profit," he said.

Phil Nadeau, Lewiston's assistant city administrator, said he was saddened to hear of City Cab's closure.

However, he holds out hope that local taxis can find a way to make money, as long as they settle on a common system.

Currently, fares are decided by travel among several zones. Between points in the downtown, the fare is $4.70. The charge increases as different zones of Lewiston-Auburn are traveled.

Companies have not asked for a rate change in several years. The last change, initiated in 2006, created a fuel surcharge.

Nadeau said he worked out a plan for meters in cabs, eventually supported by City Cab. But it was discarded when it failed to receive backing by the other companies.

"We're trying to reassess the whole transportation model in the city," Nadeau said.

dhartill@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Carrie LaRoche's picture

wth?

Logan...
I feel someone should point something out to you....
You can make comments that you want without being antagonistic to others.
Lori has the right to state HER experience with the company without being accused of "complaining"
She probably uses them frequently and has had enough experience to justify her comments. Keep in mind, she was helping to keep this business afloat DESPITE some shortcomings with service....and she will now need to find an alternative way to get to and from work - Just like you will have to either ride your bike or leave the dog home
And.... how do you know she didn't complain to them when she had an issue? I'm guessing if she were stranded she more than likely called back and said WTF?

Carrie LaRoche's picture

Too bad

I agree with everyone else here. It's sad to see so many long-standing businesses in the area going under in this bad economy.
I ear this will lead to more drunk drivers on the roads as they will have ewer options to get home.
My friends and I have used city cab numerous times to get home safely.
When it comes to the working people - they don't qualify for the services that are helping to put this company out of business (and probably more to follow)
Sad that the working people will be forced to walk to work while paying taxes to fund a warm, dry ride for others.....

Logan Fisher's picture

Who's gonna drive me around now?

Lori what's the point of complaining about them now? I'm sure they are well aware of why they went out of business.

I've used City Cab for a while now and they were the only company that I could find that would A. Let my dog ride in the car. B. Pick me up with my Bike on dark country roads. C. Pick me up in Mechanic Falls at 11:30 pm. City Cab may have had cabs that smelled terrible, were dirty and sometimes driven by crazy a$$|-|oles but they were still my favorite. I'll miss them.

Lori D'Amico's picture

Thoughts on City Cab

Hi Logan,
As I stated, "for the most part they provided acceptable to good service" and yes, I did use them almost daily for a while (as Carrie states) so I have had ample experience. Also I want to say that I DID indeed
express my concerns to the company and they apologized. I hold no grudges and will likely use them in the future if needed. However I have been in the customer service sector for years and was trained to provide good customer service regardless of my personal issues, the type of day I've had, mood, weather etc. It's just the right thing to do when one is working in the public eye! City Cab is now back on the road under new ownership with many of the same drivers if my understanding is correct. I wish them well!

Lori D'Amico's picture

Loss of City Cab

I have used City Cab for many years to get to and from work, appts and to do groceries. For the most part, it has been an acceptable to good experience depending on the drivers. Most have been friendly and did their job well. I can't say that unequivocally I've been satisfied however. I've had times when I've called for a cab and they've not showed up and I've been stranded. I've also had times when I called and the dispatcher answering the phone acted like it was a great inconvenience to be doing a job HE apparently wanted--at least initially! A deep, meant to be heard sigh and then a irritated or disgusted "City Cab" is NOT the most professional way to be answering a phone for a business--IF one wants to STAY in business. But for many, there are no other options so you make the best of it.
I do not feel there are adequate transportation options in this area for those that are NOT on MaineCare. The buses ARE improving their schedules and that's a help but more needs to be done. Full weekend schedules and later evening hours would help but other options ARE needed!

cab service

Sad to see City Cab go. I had many rides home after bar hopping in my youth in the Twin Cities. Probably kept me out of jail. Those were the days :-)

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