New taxi to serve EdwardsburgPublished 1:22pm Thursday, December 10, 2009
By KATHERINE HEMPEL
Just in time for the holidays, residents of Niles, Buchanan, Cassopolis, Dowagiac, Edwardsburg, Berrien Springs and area, have cab service available locally.
Yellow Cab was born of a real need in this area for a transportation alternative whether for seniors getting groceries, travelers arriving by Amtrak or those needing a ride to the airport so they can go away for Christmas without the concerns of long-term parking.
In speaking to the Buchanan City Commission last week, Yellow Cab’s vice president, Arthur Forbes said, “This is a service oriented company. We pride ourselves on being the kind of company you call and trust to get grandma to the airport safely and on time.”
Forbes and Yellow Cab president, Kerry Clear, started the company in direct response to the number of calls their South Bend company, Blue Ribbon Taxi, was receiving from people in southwest Michigan, wanting cab service. As the need was established, the pair determined to answer the call for help by beginning a southwest Michigan division of the company.
Both men have roots here. Clear grew up in Niles and has lived in the Michiana area all his life. His first job was at Shelton’s Farm Market where he worked from the time he was 16 until he was 20.
Forbes graduated from White Pigeon High School and spent his life in the Union, MI/ Elkhart area. He has been politically active in Cass County, running for a seat on the county commission several years ago.
Yellow Cab operates 24 hours a day and seven days a week. The company is a fully insured service and though regulations, for servicing passengers desiring travel assistance within the various city limits can vary greatly, they work to be in compliance with all city regulations.
“Cooperation with city management is very important to us. Where ordinances are outdated due to not having a reputable service, in some cases for many years; the cities are working hard to resolve any barriers to service,” Forbes said.
Currently there is one car operating exclusively in Berrien County, however, as demand increases and if initial calls are any indication, more cars will be added as the need is established.
Those using the new taxi service can rest assured that everything possible is being done to ensure their comfort and safety. The bright yellow Volvo station wagon seats six and is capable of carrying a number of suitcases or bags of groceries. It is also equipped with a child’s booster seat.
“All drivers go through a background investigation before they can be hired. In order to get a taxi license the local police perform a background check on each driver. In addition, we only hire friendly drivers and have regular training to ensure great customer service,” said Clear.
“The GPS style of paging for drivers is very efficient. Calls are received and then directed the car closest to your location allowing us to be speedy and reliable,” said local driver Phil Hempel of Buchanan, who is also a lifelong resident of the area.
Pre-ordering a taxi guarantees the cab will generally arrive within 5 minutes of the requested time. If the passenger cannot book ahead of time, the company still likes to maintain a speedy standard for pick up.
“This can, of course, be more or less dependent on how busy we are, but we pride ourselves on our service. With a trip to the airport, if the passenger does not know a good time to be picked up, we can help advise them of the best time, if we are given the information regarding airport and the departure time,” said Clear.
While Yellow Cab is available to run errands as far as groceries and other shop to home deliveries go, for legal reasons, spirits cannot be delivered.
There is set limit of $25 from Niles-Buchanan to the South Bend airport and from Niles Amtrak to Notre Dame. The flag drop is $2 plus $2 a mile with a $6 minimum trip.
There is also flexibility when it comes to payment. All of the cabs are equipped to take credit/debit cards. Company policy is no on personal checks. Prepaid gift vouchers are available and always greatly appreciated by those who receive them.
Technology also allows residents ease in the booking process. Cabs can be reserved by calling 269-684-9400 or through the parent company Web site at www.bluerib bontaxi.biz.