If you’ve noticed fewer and fewer yellow taxis in the streets, it’s because Yellow Cab is no longer in Pensacola, having been bought out by the ride-hailing/taxi hybrid company zTrip in September.
zTrip-branded silver vans and sedans have replaced the big, yellow cabs in Pensacola as part of the Kansas City-based transportation company’s expansion into 19 cities across the U.S. since forming in 2015.
You can hail zTrips from the street just like you could a cab, but you can also request or schedule rides on their mobile app, and book rides on the company’s website with an account.
The Kansas City-based zTrip transportation company bought out Yellow Cab in September 2018.
The Kansas City-based zTrip transportation company bought out Yellow Cab in September 2018. (Photo: Courtesy of zTrip)
“We believe we’re a better alternative,” zTrip CEO Bill George said in a phone interview with the News Journal Thursday, comparing his company to Uber and Lyft. “We have all the things people love about the new services, as well as all the things that were beneficial on a taxi cab.”
One of zTrip’s marketing slogans, appearing prominently on the zTrip Pensacola’s Facebook page, is the question, “Not feeling that whole surge pricing thing?”
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Prices never surge on zTrip under any circumstances, George said. He mentioned the “favorite driver” option as another perk unique to his company that sets zTrip apart from Uber and Lyft.
“So you can use the app and say, ‘OK, my favorite driver is nine minutes away, and the closest driver is three minutes away, so you make a decision,” George said.
zTrip payments can be made either by credit card through the app, credit card in the vehicle or cash. zTrip also offers direct charge accounts. George said an average 10-minute trip on an ordinary day may cost a couple dollars more with zTrip as opposed to Uber and Lyft, but he believes that balances out with the absence of surge prices.
zTrip inherited a fleet of 80 drivers during the buyout and retained nearly all of them, letting go just a handful with repeatedly negative customer service records. Since the change in September, zTrip has increased its fleet by 20 drivers and is looking to add about 10 per month going forward, according to zTrip Director of Marketing Natalie Parra.
zTrip is active in upper-mid sized cities like Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Jacksonville and Kansas City. George said market research proved Pensacola to be a great business target.
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“I love the market,” George said. “You’ve got a good mix, in terms of demographic, all across the board, from retirees to college students. The town itself has been very welcoming, we’ve had great experiences with Escambia County. In my opinion, it’s a hidden gem.”
zTrip drivers are heavily vetted by the company to include fingerprint and criminal background checks. Beyond that, George said zTrip drivers spend “hours” with management so the company knows what kind of people are getting behind the wheels of their vehicles.
zTrip’s mobile app is pictured to illustrate its layout and design.
zTrip’s mobile app is pictured to illustrate its layout and design. (Photo: Courtesy of zTrip)
“You see people’s profiles online sometimes, and it’s a lot different when you see them in person,” George said. “So it’s a different type of service.”
George mentioned zTrip as a safe option for parents choosing to have their kids picked up after school.
“With our service, you can meet our driver ahead of time, get their direct cell phone number and say, ‘OK, you’re going to pick my son up and Monday, Wednesday and Friday at this time,'” George said. “So you’re not asking your child to figure out which driver each time to create, maybe, a dangerous situation. With ours, they know the driver, the driver’s met the parents and the driver can be tracked on the app or called directly.”
zTrip is licensed to serve Santa Rosa County as well, George said.
You can apply to drive with the company on its national website under the “Drive with zTrip tab.”
The company is working on a localized recruiting website and said it does currently need drivers. For now, those interested are encouraged to send a message to zTrip on their Pensacola Facebook page or visit them to apply in person at their 3434 North Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Drive location.
Jake Newby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 850-435-8538.