Rockford taxi companies feeling impact of Uber - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Rockford taxi companies feeling impact of Uber

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ROCKFORD (WREX) -

It's as easy as the press of button on your smart phone and many people have taken advantage of the new service. Uber says Thanksgiving week was a record for riders in Rockford.

But as the growth continues some local taxi companies say they are struggling to stay up and running.

A few years ago Chris Donnelli was on his phone all the time. Business was good.

"When I first got it going it was really busy out. I didn't even have enough cars to keep up with service," said Checker Cab of Rockford Co-Owner Chris Donnelli.

The calls at Checker Cab have since slowed down. Donnelli said a lot of it has to do with some new competition from Uber which came to Rockford in February.

"We have been really excited to see that the business has more than doubled since June," said Uber Communication Lead for the Midwest Brooke Anderson.

But as Uber's growth continues cab companies like Donnelli's are seeing a drop in their bottom line

"I have got my life whole savings into this and I'm getting nothing into it now," Donnelli said.

Donnelli said business at checker is down 40 percent since Uber started.

13 news reached out to a number of Rockford taxi companies and they all say their calls are down double digits.

"We went from six cars being busy on the road down to two cars, possibly one," Donnelli said.

Uber and the city said more options for riders makes service better.

While cab companies said they're okay with competition, fairness is another issue. Uber isn't regulated in the city like taxi companies are.

"We made a very conscious decision when they started in February not to put in local restrictions or regulations yet. We wanted to really encourage them to get their feet wet," said Rockford City Administrator Jim Ryan.

It's why the city is in the process of updating taxi regulations and putting in place an ordinance that will put the companies on the same level as taxis.

Uber says it's already regulated on the state level and follow those rules very closely.

Donnelli said he has no plans to close his business which now includes just him and his wife.

The city presented a draft of the ordinance to city council this summer. They hope to revisit the issue next month.

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