Business, Central New York, Competition, Syracuse, Transportation

Syracuse Airport Officially Opening up Ground Transportation to Multiple Taxi Companies

More taxis are now serving Syracuse Airport (c) 2018 Rashika Jaipuriar

Video Transcript: More taxis now serving Syracuse Airport SCRIPT

By Rashika Jaipuriar SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — For Rajesh Kumar, the owner of Orange Metro Taxi, business was booming 12 years ago when he became the owner of Orange Metro Taxi, but he says ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft cut down his business by 90 percent when they started serving the Central New York Area this last year.

“We can’t compare to the Uber price,” Kumar said.

Rajesh Kumar waits outside the airport to pick up a passenger. (c) 2018 Rashika Jaipuriar

But now, in a small way, things could be looking up for Kumar and other local taxi companies. The Syracuse Airport Regional Authority has decided to open up ground transportation to multiple taxi companies, getting rid of a decades-old policy that only gave one taxi operator an exclusive contract.

“Before we (couldn’t) pick up (anybody) from here,” Kumar said. “So now it’s an opportunity to pick up more people.”

With this new rule, taxi operators can wait outside and standby for potential customers.

Kumar said sometimes taxi operators can wait two to three hours just to get one customer.

“We have to make money,” Kumar said. “So, we have to wait.”

The taxi counter where Syracuse Regional Taxi used to be located. The area is currently under construction. (c) 2018 Rashika Jaipuriar

Before this, and before the introduction of Uber in June 2017, the airport was exclusively partnered with Syracuse Regional Taxi. Travelers arriving to the airport could prearrange taxi services with any company, but to get a taxi directly at the airport, they were limited to that one option. In exchange, the company paid a portion of profits to the airport.

In September, Syracuse Regional Taxi — which is now called Suburban Transportation — discontinued its services at the airport. Due to construction, the airport refused to give the company a designated pick-up and drop-off area. Both the taxi company and the airport declined to comment on this story.

For travelers, this means more options. Ithaca resident Armando Garca usually flies into Syracuse, and while he’s a fan of Uber, he says during peak hours there can be a wait time. “If I were to order an Uber, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 10-15 minute waiting time,” Garca said. “Which at the moment, it’s clearly more convenient to get a taxi.”

Outside the airport, taxis are on standby. Garca said he would consider using one if the Uber wait time was too long. (c) 2018 Rashika Jaipuriar.

On Monday, April 23, Garca was waiting for his friend to pick him up, but if not, he said, “I’d be inclined to take a taxi right now.”

Although right now the taxis outside are just casually lined up waiting for customers, the airport is in the process of providing permits for taxi operators to officially operate out of the airport. This week, the airport is hosting informational sessions about the new Taxi Service Program, and it will start accepting permit applications in May.