New Taxi Rule in Duluth

Attention Duluth cab customers: From 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. you have to either pre-pay or prove you have the ability to pay before the cab driver will begin the trip.

Details in a Duluth Police Department news release published on John Ramos’ Cheerleader Blog.

35 Comments

dbrewing

about 10 years ago

Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

Claire

about 10 years ago

About time. I've read some of John's "taxicab confessions" and have considered some of his adventures with deadbeat fares to have put him in real danger. Glad the taxi cab drivers and the police have come up with this solution.

Jenny

about 10 years ago

So... if I show them a credit card how will they have any idea if it's valid, etc.? Pre-auth?

Or do cabs even take CCs here? I know when I went to a drive through on London Road a while back, the clerk acted as if I was some big city elitist moron for assuming they accepted credit cards. Maybe the cabs are the same way?

mevdev

about 10 years ago

I have always wanted to, but never actually taken a cab in Duluth. When it comes to an unspecified amount of money I always feel I can walk a few miles.

What does a typical cab ride cost? (please give to and from)

Claire

about 10 years ago

From Chester Park/UMD to the airport it's $15 or so to take a cab. I think, it's been a while, about $7 from downtown to Chester Park/UMD.

edgeways

about 10 years ago

I once shared a late night foggy cab ride from the airport along back roads with a box of eye balls.

jay

about 10 years ago

From downtown Duluth to Woodland-Oxford streets - $12 - 15. 
From Tower Ave (anchor, centerfolds, bev's) in Soupville to Woodland-Oxford streets - $30 - 40.  
Course that all depends on if you can get a cab or not, which frankly has been a struggle lately for some reason.

mevdev

about 10 years ago

Thanks for your prices! (now which company do you recommend?)


I may actually think about taking a cab sometime. I've also realized why I don't take the bus, and that is because most times I can walk to where I'm going just as fast or quicker. It just feels so natural walking a couple miles, even if I've had a few beers previously.

Paul Lundgren

about 10 years ago

The SuperFreakocomics authors, for whatever it's worth, estimate that "there are five times as many deaths per mile walked drunk are there are driven drunk."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFi-tKZ3ijQ

So, be careful Mevdev.

jenny

about 10 years ago

Driving x distance is bound to take about 1/5 of the time, however. I wonder how that works out per minute?

Claire

about 10 years ago

@Mevdev, I usually call Allied or Yellow. Allied has the most interesting drivers -- Patrick McKinnon used to drive for them, and John Ramos does now. Yellow has the most cabs in their fleet. Both have always been reliable, never missed a  flight yet b/c the cab was late.

E.

about 10 years ago

I have never missed a flight either. 

It has taken me two hours to get a ride home from the airport though because I had to call for a pick-up a the airport 5 times because every time a cab would pull up some a-hole would jump in it and the idiot drivers wouldn't ask for a name (despite being asked ... and then instructed to ... and then being threatened with bodily harm of they didn't). Eventually I was the only person left at the f-ing place, but guess what, they still didn't ask for my name.

Al

about 10 years ago

Don't pay the ferryman until he gets you to the other side.

TopOfTheHillMan

about 10 years ago

This rule is absurd.  Cabbies need to be paid for services rendered, but in advance!?!  Anyone coming in from outside MN will not give $$$ to a cabbie before the ride!  The only thing this is doing is keeping the cab company's from investing in credit card/debit card machines for their businesses.

Claire

about 10 years ago

How about the cabbie locking the car doors until the fare pays up then? I'd love to hear John's take on this discussion.

TimK

about 10 years ago

That would only work if there was a protective screen or barrier between the back and front seats.

jenny

about 10 years ago

Okay, Claire... so, we lock cabs on the inside and put up a protective barrier. This would def. make used police cars perfect for cab service, but as far as other aspects, it would also make it really easy for cabbies to kidnap people.

Would you want to enter a cab where you're locked in the back until the driver feels like letting you out?

Claire

about 10 years ago

@ Jenny, I see your point. . . I actually had a *terrible* experience once with a Duluth cabbie. I was sharing a ride with a couple I met at DLH who were also waiting for a cab. The cabbie started ranting and raving and just acted hostile to the point where the 3 of us in the back seat were getting pretty worried that he was about to go postal. 

The couple got out at their home, more than a few blocks away from my home, and the woman was so fearful for my safety alone in the cab with that whackjob, she made a big show of giving me her phone number and telling me to call her the minute I got home -- which I did. We both complained to the cab company the next day. I really hope this company is more careful about who it hires, is all I can say.

That is why, Jenny, on reconsideration, after you made your point above, I have to agree with you. Maybe prepayment is the best way to go --though what happens if you have a cabbie like this one was, and want to cut the ride short?

TopOfTheHillMan

about 10 years ago

Jenny & Claire:  This blog isn't large enough to tell you about all the freeky cab drivers/experiences I've had in my years of travel.  One new bright spot on the D-Town cab scene is Go Green Taxi Cab (218) 722-8090.  It is a mother/daughter team who have started a service.  They use a Preius as their car. I had the daughter pick me up coming from the airport recenly.  Nice Gal! They've got my biz from now on.

dropkick

about 10 years ago

Once, a gal friend and I hopped an Allied cab from downtown to the 40th West Perkins at about 1 AM, and the cabbie was the friendliest middle-aged dude imaginable. Not less than a tenth of a mile into the trip, he plops into my companion's lap the cutest, tiniest puppy imaginable, tells us its name is Teddy (I think I'm recalling that correctly, unless it looked so much like a teddy bear that I just assumed that was its name) and that it's tired out from a long day of playing with customers. This thing was almost impossibly adorable, and made it hard to accept the fact that we had reached our destination in short order. It made it pretty easy, though, to tip generously and genuinely wish the cabbie a great rest of his night.

I've used Allied on quite a few occasions (especially on weekends, no thanks to the DTA's awful Saturday and Sunday hours of operation, bleh), and I've almost invariably had at least a pleasant conversation with the drivers. Nice folks.

Claire

about 10 years ago

TopoftheHillMan -- thanks for the tip, I've written down the number for Go Green, and call them next time I need a cab. . . though it may be a while, since Skyline Shuttle started up, I usually take it down to MSP and fly out of MSP. They totally rock and have made my life easier on that score.

TopOfTheHillMan

about 10 years ago

Claire:  Thankfully my co understand time is $ and flys me out of Duluth, although I hear good things about skylines service.
Dropkick:  Good for you.  the VERY LAST time I ever stepped foot in an Allied I got in the back and there was a hole in the floorboard the size of a football! I could see the road going by!

Ramos

about 10 years ago

My feeling is that despite the new rule, in most cases cab drivers will not ask for money up front. As some commenters have made clear, this can alienate the customer.

On the other hand, I have seen too many disappearing backs to worry much about the tender feelings of every single customer. A lot of people expect you to trust them implicitly even if you've never seen them before, whereas I approach each ride from an initial position of distrust, and work up from there, based on the customer and situation.

Cab drivers do not make a wage. They are dependent on the meter and their tips for their money. One disappearing customer can result in a driver working for an hour or more for nothing. Because I never want to experience that sinking feeling again, I fully support the new rule.

Bob Loblaw

about 10 years ago

Given a choice, I would choose the taxi company that doesn't force me to prepay (or force me to prove I'm good for it).  

I'm so lucky that the Duluth Police and taxi companies have already made that choice for me.

oldknifey

about 10 years ago

Then don't take a taxi. I don't understand why people get up in arms about this. If you've got the money, then show it or pay it. It's like getting mad because gas stations make you prepay after 10 PM. I take taxis regularly because I want to avoid driving drunk. I always make sure I have the fare. Paying it up front is no skin off of my nose, and, unless you don't have the money to pay for the fare, I don't see how it should bother anybody else.

EvilResident

about 10 years ago

It's ludicrous. If you're gonna take a cab, you better have the money, and if you have the money, why be offended to prove that? Cab drivers are people, too, and they deserve to feel secure. It's not like a retail job. 

These people drive ANYBODY who calls them all over, and without having to show proof of payment, it'd be pretty damn easy to take advantage of them. Maybe YOU wouldn't, but how do they know?

EvilResident

about 10 years ago

I phrased that weirdly.

Bob Loblaw

about 10 years ago

Again, given a choice, I will always choose the gas station that doesn't force me to prepay - especially when I have my kids with me.  It's a hassle to wake them up, get their coats on, walk in to the store (all times 2)

There is usually at least one gas station around that doesn't judge me guilty before being proven so.

It sounds to me from reading John's blog, that there isn't even a choice for me in taxis that don't ask me to prepay.  By police chief edict, ALL taxis must ask you to pre-pay or prove.  Why not let individual taxi companies decide their own policy?  That way I (the potential customer)might get a choice in the matter.

I have taken taxis all over the world and have never been asked to prove I can pay.  What is so special about Duluth taxis?

TimK

about 10 years ago

I smell a troll.

brian

about 10 years ago

I don't see any problem at all with the rule, I wouldn't be surprised if other cities start doing it too. 
I run my own business, if I get a client that I've never worked with before, I ask for a percentage of the fee before I start the project. It weeds out the problem clients and the ones who aren't serious about finishing up the project. Very few people are offended by the practice, if they are, there are probably going to be other issues in the business relationship. 

If you're talking about clients you've never met that you pick up outside the bar in the middle of the night, seems like a pretty good idea to make sure they're serious about the service you're going to provide them.

Claire

about 10 years ago

What Brian said. I got stiffed once by a deaadbeat client and ever since, I've required money up front from new clients. If someone has a problem with it, they are more than welcome to go somewhere else, I don't have time to be having to squeeze payment for services rendered. It really burns me up that someone would take advantage of another person like that.

I think if one were to read John Ramos's blog, where he recounts some of his more hair-raising adventures driving a cab, one would be much more sympathetic to the plight of taxi drivers like John, who's not the kind of person who's willing to just suck it up and lose a fare without trying to do something about it. 

PS -- John Ramos should write a book about his life and times driving a cab. I'd buy it.

Piglet

about 10 years ago

I agree with the pre-pay plan esp. these days when $$ is tight for some folks who may not make the best decisions after a night out. One more round or...actually pay for the cab? 

I rarely take cabs any more, now living in the country but have had scary rides in Duluth before. Allied driver, white supremacist. Made him drop me off on Glenwood long before my house he scared me so badly. Then there is/was Charlie from Yellow. You know the guy, hoarder with tons of junk in the front seat, glasses, bad teeth. Loves to bring the nuns fruit baskets during the holidays or so I was told. 

Most cabs in Vegas take credit/debit cards now. Super convenient esp. when on an expense account!

Bob Loblaw

about 10 years ago

I'm fine with you having your own policy of requiring cash up front - as long as I have the option of picking your competitor who doesn't require it.  I'd even go as far as saying it is probably wise to have such a policy, even if you are a taxi company.

The problem with this ruling is it forces all cab companies to assume that I, the customer, am going to stiff them.  There is no option for me to choose a taxi company that doesn't have this policy if that is my preference.

tamara

about 10 years ago

I loved Cab-A-Ray cabs. I am sad they are no longer around.

Ramos

about 10 years ago

As I said earlier, I doubt that many cab drivers will take a hardline policy on this. Obviously, we won't ask our regulars to prepay. The rule is just a valuable tool that we can use if we need it.

The rule is not a police chief edict, as Bob Loblaw says. It's a policy that was voluntarily enacted by a number of taxi owners, with the approval of the police department. I am sure it would be easy to find a company--or at least a particular driver--who doesn't ask you to prepay.

I think I would ask you to, though.

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