Photo courtesy of Long Beach Yellow Cab.
Long Beach Yellow Cab (LBYC) may soon provide more taxicabs in Long Beach and discounted ride services if the Long Beach City Council approves legislation Tuesday that could potentially give taxis a competitive edge over rideshare services in the community.
If passed, the cab company will increase its fleet from 175 vehicles to 199, and be allowed to offer customers discounts—something companies like Uber and Lyft can already offer, because they are regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission, which does not impose rules on pricing.
“A lot of people don’t realize that it’s just as illegal to discount off the meter as it is to overcharge,” LBYC General Manager William Rouse told the Post. “Up until the council gives us authority to do that, we can't give away promo codes.”
The council will also review the cab company’s revamped vehicles and logos, which will include a new shade of yellow and simple displays.
Rouse says the company will especially focus on upgrading and promoting its app— Ride Yellow —which he says has been around since before the rise of rideshare companies, but has gone relatively unnoticed.
“We’re going to completely change the focus of our business from a phone number-centered promotional campaign to an app-centered one,” Rouse said.
For cab driver Jose “Frenchie” Gratais, the user-friendly app may also mean the return of a younger crowd.
“We serve all types but probably more of the older crowd,” said Gratais who has worked for LBYC since 2008. “Having this new app, we’re going to regain some of the clientele we lost...attract more younger people.”
The city council will also work with the cab company on a pilot program that would allow it to expedite the processing of its drivers, which can take up to four weeks and includes a fingerprint-based background check system conducted by police.
Other revisions include pricing to meet consumer demands and the potential for drivers to use their own vehicles if demand is up.
“We are totally grateful to the council and the staff for working on this because our industry provides major benefits to the city that are not even touched upon by the ridesharing companies,” said Rouse. “ Including transportation for the poor, for people who do not have credit cards, for the disabled.”
Rouse said the LBYC currently employs 250 drivers, about 70 percent of whom are Long Beach residents.