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How to spot owner-operated cabs vs. professional taxi services

August 30, 2019
Bird's eye view of yellow cabs with one blue taxi

Imagine stepping out of a crowded event like a Twins game or a concert and approaching a line of taxis parked out front. How do you know if you're getting into a taxi that's part of a professional taxi service versus an owner-operated taxi, sometimes also referred to as a "gypsy cab"?

 Here's how to spot the difference between the two and why you're better off avoiding owner-operated cabs.

What is an owner-operator taxi?

"Owner-operator" refers to a small business owner who typically also runs the day-to-day operations of the company. An independent/owner-operated taxi is simply a small-scale "taxi service" that consists of a single driver. 

How to spot owner-operated cabs

Owner-operated cabs may not feature a logo on the outside of their vehicle, and the name on the outside of the vehicle could either be something generic like "taxi service" or something personalized like "Bob's taxi."

A telltale sign (and a red flag) when you take a peek inside the cab would be the lack of a meter and/or two-way radio. A good rule of thumb is if it doesn't look like any other taxi you've seen around town, it's an owner-operated cab.

Perhaps the best way to spot owner-operated taxis is to know how to spot cabs from professional taxi services instead. If you want to be sure you're working with a professional taxi service, look for the recognizable Airport Taxi, Yellow Cab, and iHAIL vehicles that comprise the Transportation Plus brand.

Why should I avoid self-employed taxi drivers?

If you have an issue, your only recourse is to talk directly to the owner — who is likely the cause of your issue.

Forget about booking ahead of time, along with all the other services offered by professional taxi company to make riding more convenient.

  • No guaranteed pricing

Professional taxi services provide fair and reliable pricing with transparent, consistent rates — something not guaranteed with an owner-operated cab.

  • You don't know if their service is legitimate

Until you get in the vehicle and look around for some sort of posted paperwork, you have no idea if this person is even licensed to operate a taxi.

The biggest reason to avoid a taxi that isn't part of a professional taxi service is for your protection and peace of mind. There are reputable owner-operated cabs out there, but when it comes to your personal safety, it is best to know the service you are using is professional and trustworthy.

Transportation Plus is the longest-running and most trusted taxi company in Minnesota. We've been serving the Minneapolis-St. Paul area for over 40 years, and we're committed to delivering fair, transparent, and excellent service to our riders. Download our ihail app today and request a reliable ride anytime, anywhere.