Potsdam taxi company wants opportunity to increase rates for in-village travel; competitor disagrees
By CRAIG FREILICH
POTSDAM -- Taxi Zero wants the right to charge more for rides in the village, but the owner of competitor Potsdam Taxi says a hike would be too much for many of his customers.
“I think this is not a rich area,” says Thad Broughton, who bought Potsdam Taxi five years ago after previous owner George Regan died.“If they want to raise it that’s fine. I’m probably not going to raise my rates because my customers can’t afford it,” Broughton says.
John Meyers, who operates Taxi Zero with Elisa Meyers, has proposed that each company be allowed to charge what they want as long as a rate sheet is submitted to the village every year with their taxi license renewals.
He says Taxi Zero suspended service within the village Oct. 13, and has turned down rides to over 300 customers since then. “We feel really badly, but we must wait on the process to change a law,” he said in a prepared statement.
Meyers says the two companies offer different services with different hours and different client bases. He notes Taxi Zero provides service as late as 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday night.
He is proud that Taxi Zero gets its name from the two low-emission hybrid vehicles his company uses.
Meyers says if the village approves a new law that allows them to set their own rates, "that would be exactly what we asked for.”
“He called me when he opened up and wanted me to go to the village board with him to get a raise in the rate,” Broughton says, but he didn’t go.
Broughton says the Meyers deceived the village when they said they would be operating 24 hours a day, “and they’re not.”
He is critical of the Meyers for breaking the $6 in-village limit in the 2008 law, and of village government for “bending over backwards” to accommodate the Meyers.
The minimum charge listed on the Taxi Zero web site is $10, from anywhere in the village to downtown between 6 a.m. and midnight, $12 after midnight, to $12 “across town” in Potsdam until midnight and $14 after midnight. That’s for two people, and it’s $2 more per person over two.
“He started at $6, then it was $8, then $10, and then he got caught. He gets caught breaking the law and now they feel sorry for him. Now they’re bending over backward for him,” Broughton says.
The Meyers have complained that the $6 limit "is not enough in most cases."
“He says 20 percent of his business is in the village, and he still needs a rate raise? I don’t think so,” Broughton says.
Broughton says he has customers in Potsdam who depend on him.
“I’ve turned down a $200 ride to Plattsburgh so I can take care of my regular customers,” he said.
The village board has set a hearing for Dec. 19 on an amendment to local law, which now says that any taxi ride within the village can't cost more than $6. Broughton says he will be at the hearing.
A draft of the law calls for their rates to be submitted to the village every year in April, when taxi licenses are renewed, and approved by a vote of the board for one year.