Cab Companies React To Lyft Launch

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Aside from the new ride sharing service, there are more than 30 traditional cabs providing rides in Sioux Falls. And extra drivers on the road mean extra competition.

The news didn’t come as a surprise.

“They’ve been talking about it a long time, big cities have it,” says owner of Taxi By Mike, LLC, Mike Oldfield.

But Oldfield says Lyft operating in South Dakota isn’t needed.

“Sioux Falls really isn’t big enough,” he says. “We’re looking at something that is made for Chicago, big cities like Dallas or Miami.”

He says the taxi competition is already stiff.

“There’s already a struggle for everyone to make a living,” says Oldfield.

“When I started there were 5 cab companies, when I quit there were 35 cab companies,” adds Todd Slade, who operated Quicksilver Taxi for 5 years. “That puts 30 extra cars on the street every Friday, Saturday night.”

For Slade, the high taxi numbers are what caused him to get out of the industry.

“My car broke down, couldn’t get the money to fix it,” says Slade.

Slade fears it’s only going to get worse for cab drivers.

“It’s just another ‘Walmart’ coming to town,” says Slade. “They’re going to knock everyone out.”

According to city ordinance, in Sioux Falls, the maximum amount cab drivers can charge customers is $3.15 per mile. Lyft will be charging $0.75. The difference in policies is keeping Slade from getting back into the driver seat.

“I’m not interested if they come here, it’s a waste of time,” says Slade.

However, Mike Oldfield says he’ll be fine.

“I have a good clientele base so it’s not going to bother me any,” says Oldfield.

Oldfield says he’s currently driving 80 to 90 customers per week.

“A local taxi, we have more experience and more loyalty and more liability,” explains Oldfield. “We’ve been doing it longer than some college person that’s not familiar with driving in the snow or ice.”

The price for a Lyft ride in Sioux Falls is actually cheaper than surrounding states. In Fargo it costs $0.81 per mile, and in Sioux City a ride costs $1.16 per mile.

Since launching at noon, the app has shown at least 8 Lyft drivers in Sioux Falls, and that number is growing fast.

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