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SF cab company launches crowdfunding campaign to compete with Lyft, Uber

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Green Cab alleges loose laws give tech-driven rivals unfair advantage

A green cab on Lombard Street.
A green cab on Lombard Street.
Photo by Sibuet Benjamin

Green Cab, a worker-owned cab company specializing in environmentally friendly Priuses, is trying to raise $30,000 via Go Fund Me to stay in business. Company founder Mark Gruber hopes to frame his company as embattled working-class folks fighting against ultra-wealthy rideshare companies.

In his crowdfunding campaign, Gruber writes:

We and our drivers are competing against multi-billion dollar behemoths on a playing field that is way short of level -- and as we are a worker co-op, our drivers are our company. [...] We have a loan to pay on October 1, deferred bills are coming due, and some of our taxis will soon need to be replaced. In short, our future is at risk.

So far, ten supporters have pitched just less than $900 since September 4. And according to SFMTA, the small outfit has only seven cars rolling these days.

Green Cab launched in 2007 with a single Prius. Back then Gruberg touted the high-mileage vehicles as a boon to drivers as well as the environment, telling the San Francisco Chronicle, “There are two principles we feel strongly about—having a driver-run company and having an environmentally responsible company.”

But the little cab company that could fell on hard times. This is not Green Cab’s first flirtation with closure; back in 2014, a flap with their insurance company and SFMTA almost drove Green Cab into the red.

These days, however, Gruberg points the finger at Silicon Valley. In a recent report, the Green Cab founder complained that lax rules have given Lyft and Uber an unfair advantage over licensed cab companies.

“Green Cab is not the only cab company in danger of succumbing to unfair competition,” warns Gruberg.

Yellow Cab, San Francisco’s largest cab company, declared bankruptcy in 2015 and went up for sale this year, for example, but managed to find a buyer earlier to save it from closure.

If helping out the little guy is not incentive enough, donors to Green Cab’s fund also get chocolate and coffee from Caffe Trieste for their trouble.

Portland cabbies protest Uber.
Aaron Parecki