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Local taxicabs welcome Uber challenge

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Since its recent availability in Humboldt County, Uber has become an increasingly popular alternative to taking taxis. Although the San Francisco based company may provide some serious competition, the local cab companies don’t seem worried about it yet.

William Startare, 31, is a Eureka resident and the grandson of William Startare, who started City Cab Company. The Eureka based cab company is now owned by his uncles.

Startare is loyal to the family-owned company, but admits he uses both City Cab and Uber. He believes they both have their advantages. Startare says the Uber app is more user-friendly for younger people.

“It’s modern,” Startare said. “It’s the way we need information to be presented to us.”

One disadvantage to Uber, however, is it is not always available. On the other hand, Startare says City Cab might take longer, but they will always show up.

“Two days ago at 3:30 in the morning, I tried to get an Uber and there was none,” Startare said. “I called City Cab and they said 10 minutes.”

Jose Zaragoza, 34, was born in Mexico and has lived in Humboldt since he was six. Zaragoza has been driving for Uber for about seven months and is happy the service now exists in Humboldt.

With a wife, two children and a third on the way, Zaragoza says money from his primary job at Costco is not always enough. Driving for Uber helps him supplement his income without a time commitment.

“This is a job where you can pick your own hours,” Zaragoza said. “It brings extra income to the table. It helps.”

Zaragoza says lower rates, cleaner vehicles and the convenience of the app make Uber the better choice for customers.

“You can see where I am, where I’m going and how far I am from you,” Zaragoza said. “It’s all done with the simple touch of a button.”

Cedric Pearl, the owner of Plaza Cab, says Uber has not caused his company to take a hit financially so far. He believes the availability and consistency of rates make taxis a preferable choice for some customers.

“Their rates fluctuate based on demand,” Pearl said. “Our rates never change. You can call a taxi on New Year’s Eve and the price is the same as always.”

Another advantage of a taxi company is they are required to have commercial insurance, and drivers are required to undergo federal scan background checks and drug tests.

Despite some disadvantages Pearl sees with Uber, he is not opposed to people using the competition.

“Anything that keeps drunk drivers off the road is ok with me,” Pearl said.

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