Surveying Albany taxi experiences

albany cvb taxi service survey

A screengrab from the survey.

Updated at 2:24 pm

The Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau is aiming to start a conversation about tax service in the Albany area via a new online survey collection taxi customer experiences.

As Schuyler Bull, the Albany CVB's director of marketing, said to us: "It's a large conversation to be had."

Ask even a small group of people about their using taxis in this area and you are likely to hear a whole a bunch of stories -- often about hard-to-understand fare structures and/or strange/unpleasant experiences.

As Bull said: "It's probably not a surprise that people have strong opinions about taxi service in the area."

With the new convention center in downtown Albany under construction, Bull said the Convention and Visitors Bureau figured it's a good time to take up the taxi issue. "Our real mission here is to focus on visitors as we grow as a hospitality destination, and to make it as positive experience as possible for them."

Bull said the CVB is currently focusing on gathering personal stories and sentiment so they can be presented to taxi companies in the area. "It's not all bad. We come to the table to hear both sides. We know they face challenges serving the whole gamut of customers."

And while Bull said the CVB doesn't currently have any specific solutions on the table, one angle that's likely to bubble up is creating a simpler or shared regional fare system. Of course, any regional approach could be complicated because many of the area's popular transit destinations -- the train station, the airport, downtown Albany, and so on -- are all in different municipalities.

State Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, whose district includes a large portion of the city of Albany, said Thursday that she's supportive of the CVB's effort to gather customer experiences toward improving taxi service. She and Assemblyman John McDonald -- whose district also includes a chunk of Albany -- have already been in touch with CVB about coordinating with other orgs on the topic.

Fahy said she's heard complaints about confusing or uneven fares, especially between the Albany-Rensselaer train station and downtown Albany, and "a more systemwide approach" could be something to consider.

"It's a matter of how we can best regulate and make sure the customer isn't being gouged," Fahy told us, citing the need to create a good impression with visitors as the area tries to grow its visitor and tourism business for the new convention center and other local businesses.

"It's a matter of how we can best regulate and make sure the customer isn't being gouged," Fahy told us, citing the need to create a good impression with visitors as the area tries to grow its visitor and tourism business for the new convention center and other local businesses.

Currently, taxi services are regulated by local municipalities, so Fahy said a more regional approach to the issue could end up involving some sort of legislation at the state level. She said she's currently looking into some of the issues as they wait to see what surfaces from the survey.

Taxi services all around the nation are under pressure from the rise of "ride-sharing" services such as Uber and Lyft. And the pressure has prompted calls for modernization and reform in cities such as Chicago, San Diego, and the DC area. [Chicago Tribune] [Voices of San Diego] [Washington Post]

The Capital Region isn't currently served by Uber -- though there's been some grassroots push to bring it here from business owners Matt Baumgartner and Vic Christopher. As they told AOA earlier this year, they were motivated to raise the issue because of dissatisfaction with current taxi service in the area. Christopher reiterated those concerns on Twitter last month.

It's probably not a bad bet that Uber (or something similar) sets up in the Capital Region eventually. It's already operating in many metros of similar size. And though it's become very popular in some cities, it is not without its own issues. [Businessweek] [Slate] [Washington Post]

Elsewhere: There was an interesting article in the Times Union last year about taxi services in the area -- a dispatcher at one of the companies said drivers make about $20,000 a year. [TU]

+ An attempt to hail Uber for the Albany area
+ What is a reasonable price for a cab ride from ALB to downtown Albany?
+ Ask AOA: A good taxi service?


I've never, never, never (add some more "nevers" at will) had a positive experience riding a cab in Albany. The last time I called one from the Washington Ave Ext to go to downtown Albany (Dove St), I waited 45 minutes. When the cab (minivan) arrived, I was taken on a tour of that part of the city, waiting 15 minutes for a family of three to board the cab at another location. The cab then dropped them first somewhere up near Madison and Quail and then took me to Dove St. Total cost? $12 dollars. Unfortunately, I knew nothing about bus lines, otherwise I would've used CDTA. Someone at a the medical office I visited told me that there were no buses in that area. And, of course, the taxi was a blend of transportation mode and hazardous waste site. I wonder how many positive surveys they will collect.

Welcome to Albany taxi companies where the fares are made up and customer service doesn't matter.

I know it's popular to dump on certain things that may not universally deserve the vitriol (politicians, lawyers, Nickelback) but the Albany area taxi service is as abhorrent as everyone claims it is.

There has literally never been a good experience using Capitaland Taxis in my 10 years living in the city. Wether in the cab, driving around them, or walking with them zipping through crosswalks.

I take cabs in cities all over the world, and I must concur that albany cab service is expensive, particularly on popular routes and destinations, and, in general, just seems to suck.

$40 for a ride from the airport to the train station? Why isn't there a shuttle bus that leaves every 30 minutes? Same for downtown Albany/Schenectady/Troy. Hello, CDTA?

I would agree with prior comments about cab service in this city. I would also add that when I was a college student, cab costs would vary and I was often ripped off because the driver would just quote whatever price he/she felt like.
Why dont these cabs have running meters and an easy way to pay by credit?
Overall the cab business's seem unregulated and do what they want. I use CDTA when I need to use other transportation besides my own vehicle: More reliable, way less costly, and I dont fear for my life when on a bus!

I hope everyone takes this survey! Cab service must improve in this area. I agree with all the comments listed above. Additionally, I believe that poor cab service leads to an increase in people deciding to get into their own vehicle after drinking. 60 Minute wait for a cab seems even longer to someone needing a ride when intoxicated.

While not quite Albany, my best friend took a cab to meet us for lunch in Troy. After waiting for over an hour the cab driver FINALLY showed up and we were an hour and a half late for lunch. Best part was-she was going from one part of Troy to another, not even a far distance. I will never take a cab in the Capital District because this is pretty what happens whenever anyone calls a cab in the area.

I never understood that I can take a bus to canal street cheaper than I can take a taxi from colonie mall to the airport

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