THE QUESTION MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED BY CUSTOMERS HAS BEEN...
reasons that may apply in any given case, and second, to understand the answer, one must
understand the system that governs taxicab supply and demand.
So, for those customers who really want to know, I will attempt to explain it all.
In Phoenix as well as most other major cities, drivers are not employed by the company,
but are independant contractors who lease a cab for a 12 or a 24-hour shift from the
company. The driver pays a set fee for the shift, and must also buy whatever fuel he uses.
To make a profit, the driver must make enough in fares to cover his lease and gas, with
money left over. On the average day a driver will spend about half the shift making
lease and gas, and the remaining half making a profit. This varies a lot from day to day
depending on (a) luck (b) the day of the week (c) the week of the month (d) the month of
the year (e) the state of the economy (f) the number of other cabs on the road, and (g)
It's impossible to predict whether any given day will be good or bad. However, since a
really slow day can mean making little, nothing, or even losing money, most drivers will
try to pick the busiest days to work and the slowest for their days off.
THEREFORE, THE NUMBER OF CABS ON THE ROAD AT ANY ONE TIME IS DETERMINED
BY THE SUM OF INDIVIDUAL DECISIONS OF ALL THE DRIVERS. The company has no
power to control this.
Because drivers are independant contractors, each chooses what parts of town in which
to accept calls, and what calls to 'bid' on or accept. Their decisions will be made based on
which areas are most profitable and least dangerous. Since cab driving is considered to be
high on the list of hazardous occupations, it is reasonable to try to minimize picking up
in known high-crime neighborhoods.
Areas with relatively infrequent calls, especially outlying areas, will not attract cabs.
Calls in those areas are usually covered when a driver bids on the call from another area,
hoping that the fare will be worth driving the extra distance.
When calls are announced for bid, only a general location or zone is given, with no details.
Once the driver bids on the call he or she is usually obligated to accept it. Drivers often
avoid bidding on calls in an area at times when a regular but unprofitable or undesirable call
is expected, which may also slow response to other calls in the same area.
Any special request on a call will reduce the number of drivers available for it. Paying by credit card
or voucher, payment at destination, requesting special rates, animals, and more than
4 passengers are examples. Don't try to surprise a driver with these requests, however.
The driver will likely just drive away without you.
Cabs are leased for 12 or 24 hour shifts. The majority of drivers choose 12 hours, and most of these
shifts start and end between 5:00 and 7:00 am/pm. This means that during the weekday rush
hours, many of the drivers must stop taking calls and head to base, while others are just starting
out at base.
This is one problem that could be alleviated by starting all shifts either before 5:00 or after 8:00,
or at least broadening the available shift-start times. Traditions and habits are often hard to
In any 12-hour shift there will be peak periods and slow periods. While a driver may make
more money during the peaks, that increase is limited because one driver can only do one call at
a time. To come out ahead for the day, there must be a reasonable number of calls per cab per
hour throughout the day. If there were enough cabs on the road to cover peak times with no
delay, there would be too many competing for too few calls the rest of the day. The excess
would soon correct itself when drivers began quitting or changing shifts or days off.
Inevitably, response time will slow and vary more widely when demand is high, just as traffic
slows during rush hours when more vehicles fill the roads.
The time call, called in at least an hour ahead of the time, will often get your
cab there quite close to the time specified. This works best during non-peak periods,
however. Time calls are given prioity over non-time-calls, but this is of little advantage
when there are a large number of time calls at the same time.
NEVER ASSUME THAT A TIME CALL GUARANTEES THE CAB ON TIME. IT DOESN'T.
Speaking of time, time after time, at the end of placing an order, customers ask "how long?".
And each time they are given a standard estimated range, which may vary somewhat
depending on the current number of calls pending, but is not meant to be an accurate
If you are calling a relatively large cab company, especially when it's busy. they don't know
how long, so don't ask. The more cabs on the road, the better chance you have of getting
a cab relatively soon, but the less possible it is to keep track of all of them and dispatch calls
at the same time.
The dispatcher at a smaller company may know where most of the cabs are and what they're
doing, but, if busy, average response time may be longer.
GIVE COMPLETE AND ACCURATE INFORMATION. If you aren't sure where you are, find out,
then call. We need complete addresses. If you're in an apartment complex, give the address,
apartment number, building number, and if it's gated, the gate code.
Speaking of gated places--DON'T LIVE IN ONE! Complain to management or move elsewhere.
BE THERE, OR CANCEL. Drivers waste valuable time looking for bad or incomplete addresses,
and going to calls and finding no one. This slows response time and reduces the drivers'
already meager income.
BE NICE. Yelling, arguing, whining, or threatening will not get your cab there quicker. If you
get abusive on the phone you may get no cab at all.
Don't worry-- be happy. There'll be another plane later.