EUGENE, Ore. – Taxi services are struggling to stay in business amid what would normally be the busiest time of the year for the industry.
But with travel discouraged and bars and restaurants all but closed, the owner of Eugene Hybrid Taxi David Bowden said business is down 90%.
“This is the busiest time of year right now for taxis and to be down 65% as of two weeks ago and 90% this week is really hard,” Bowden said.
Bowden said the beginning of the year was okay, but business quickly turned south as new restrictions were put in place and infection rates grew.
“Everything is shut down. You’ve got nowhere to go eat. The bars are closed. There’s not a whole lot of things left to do right now. People are staying home. We take a lot of people to grocery stores. We take a lot of people to doctor’s appointments. We take some people to work. But that’s really about it,” Bowden said.
At its peak a few years ago, Bowden’s company boasted a fleet of ten taxis to take riders from place to place. In December of 2019, that number was down to five. Now, just two cars – including one driven by Bowden – are left. Bowden said the company also had to get rid of dispatchers and now take the calls for service inside their vehicles.
Bowden works about 90 hours a week, which he says it just enough to pay the bills. Unlike other businesses, taxi drivers are not paid by the hour, instead receiving income from each rider who pays a fare.
Until the economy reopens, Bowden said he doesn’t see his business recovering.
“Until everything goes back to being open, there’s just not any business. And I don’t know what my drivers are going to do. I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Bowden said.