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Uber From a Taxi Driver’s Perspective

With Uber arriving in Oxford as a resource to get home after a night on the Square, safety concerns have come up. Especially among those concerned is a taxi driver and the owner of Austin’s Taxi Company, Austin Blake.

“I’ve been doing this a long time, and I know that you’ve got to take care of your taxi,” Blake said. “It’s your responsibility, not only to get paid, but it’s your job to take care of your customers and make sure they get home safe. Uber is just for an income. That’s all. You need to be more aware when you’re taking care of these parents’ children.”

Blake is beloved by his customers and has formed many bonds and friendships over the years. He calls them his “baybees.” Recently, Blake posted a story on his Facebook page about encountering a girl walking home at 4 a.m. surrounded by a suspicious car.

When he asked if the girl wanted a ride, she responded that she had no money and was locked out of her boyfriend’s house; so, she had to walk home. Blake took her home free of charge. He asked her about the car, and she told him that random boys were trying to force her into the car after saying she told them she didn’t want to get in.

“I picture my daughters… my granddaughters,” Blake said. “I love them all and want them all to be protected.”

Blake included his phone number in the post, promising that if anyone was ever in a similar situation he would pick them up free of charge. Local taxi drivers, like Blake, make connections with their customers. Uber, he argues, just isn’t the same.

“Anybody can take you from point A to point B,” Blake said. “You need to be experienced to do what we have to do at Ole Miss, and I’ve got ten years of that.”

Every taxi driver in Oxford is required to go through an extensive background check, carry a class D license and have a camera installed in their van. Blake even adds extra safety measures to ensure his drivers are prepared for any situation. Before his employees take the wheel, they must drive with Blake or other experienced drivers for a period of time before they get to start driving on their own.

“They get a chance to see the different things we go through, and they’ll learn how to handle situations,” Blake said.

Blake doesn’t think Uber is a bad thing but that it just isn’t right for Oxford. He believes it’s a great thing for big cities, but in small towns, customers are safer with local, well-known drivers.

“The main thing is making sure that the people in your taxi are safe,” Blake said. “You are more than just a taxi driver; you are responsible for the people in your taxi.”

Austin’s Taxi Company can be reached at (662)-832-9705.

 


Jac Bedrossian is a HottyToddy.com intern. She can be reached at jacbtv@aol.com.

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