New Taxi Association Board President Refocuses Uber Fight

The Taxicab, Limousine and Paratransit Association’s new president is ready to take on Uber and Lyft, but with a new approach.

Dwight Kines, 2016 board president of the Taxicab, Limousine and Paratransit Association (TLPA), thinks it’s time for cab companies to take their fight with Uber beyond the courthouse and to the streets.

“We need to continue to fight the legal battle, but we need to spend just as much time and just as much effort on working on our business model, improving our customer service, and figuring out for our members how they can compete in this new world,” he said.

Kines, who is also the Mid-Atlantic vice president of Baltimore-based cab company Transdev, said taxi companies need to learn how to compete with ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft because they’re here to stay.

Here’s where TLPA comes in. Kines plans to use his role as president to educate members on how to be more competitive by reworking their business model, not just improving the things they’ve always done.

A key issue traditional taxi companies need to address is how to handle peak demand, such as weekend nights and rainy mornings. Kines suggests companies dispatch their other fleets, allow drivers to use their personal vehicles, or direct calls to competitors to meet demand.

The association is in the best position to initiate change through sharing stories of the effectiveness of these improvements in its newsletters and events, Kines said.

“It’s trying to constantly refresh the ideas in our members’ minds,” he explained. “We have a lot of cab companies that have been around for a long time and are resistant to change—it worked 20 or 30 years ago—but what we need to show them is examples of how these new ideas have worked so they’re not as resistant to giving it a try.”

Kines says a main focus of his board term will be the implementation of cab-hailing applications. Many cab companies already allow customers to request rides through mobile devices—including Kines’ company, which has offered this service for five years through the Curbed app. He said the entire industry should not only be using similar apps but also be marketing this service to customers.

However, he notes a problem with app use that only taxis must face: Unlike Uber, cab drivers cannot refuse trips in many states, causing some customers using the apps to wait up to 45 minutes for pickup.

“The technology is a help, but there are some times when we have cuffs on us in our business that keep us from competing on the level playing field,” he said.

Even as Kines refocuses his association on competing with ridesharing companies, he isn’t backing down from the legal battles. He said these companies still need tighter regulations on criminal background checks, insurance, and vehicle inspections to better protect the public.

“Our priorities may have been regulatory and legislative and that sort of thing, but customer service and member education have always been a component of this fight,” Kines said. “I’m just shifting the priorities to make this right up there with everything else because it’s our responsibility that we continue to push this with folks so that they are prepared to compete in the new world.”

(iStock Editorial/Thinkstock)

Alex Beall

By Alex Beall

Alex Beall is an associate editor for Associations Now with a masters in journalism and a penchant for Instagram. MORE

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