Danae Columbus: United Cab says business down 50 percent since arrival of Uber, and now Lyft

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Syed "Sheriff" Kazmi (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Syed “Sheriff” Kazmi (photo by Danae Columbus for UptownMessenger.com)

Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

As Uber thrives in New Orleans and Lyft prepares to begin operations here, the leadership at United Cab say they have lost half their business, and are now doubling down to reconnect with the New Orleans customers they have served for more than 75 years.

Since 1938, United has operated 365 days a year except for a month immediately after Hurricane Katrina while their radio service was down. Resourceful drivers quickly began picking up passengers as citizens returned. The New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation calls United Cab New Orleans’ only “five-star taxi cab company”.

“We’re a little United Nations of almost 475 team members from all around the world,” said United’s president Syed “Sheriff” Kazmi. “We have driver-owners from Asia, Africa, Canada, Europe, Morocco, and Algeria.” United has long been known for its personal service whether a customer needs a ride downtown or to the airport, a package delivered, a prescription filled or a few groceries picked up. “Many of our loyal customers have been with United for decades. We know our clients, their habits, and their needs,” Kazmi said.

United doesn’t oppose Uber and Lyft and the new technology they bring to the transportation industry but wishes for a more level playing field, Kazmi says. The two alternative companies are not held to the same standards as cabs, Kazmi says. United’s fares are highly regulated whereas Uber drivers are able to increase their fares when circumstances allow, he explained.

“Honestly, our business is off 50 percent since Uber began operating here,” Kazmi says. “Also, the City of New Orleans places many requirements on our vehicles and drivers including background checks, commercial insurance, and special licenses which naturally increases our operating costs.”

Having led United Cab since July 2012, Kazmi was attracted to the company because of its reputation and in-depth training program. United’s 149 driver-owners will select a new 10-person board at their March 15th annual elections which will include lots of food and entertainment. “We will celebrate our years of success and plan for the future,” he said. Once again, Kazmi is running for president unopposed.

“With this new competition from Uber and now Lyft, we’re doing everything possible to keep our drivers and their families going strong,” Kazmi says. “We are working longer hours and more days each week to bring home the same dollars, but we will adapt and thrive in this changing marketplace.”


Though Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are currently projected to be the standard bearers for their respective parties in this year’s presidential elections, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows that the majority of voters are not really thrilled with either. Trump and Clinton both won Louisiana’s presidential primary last week as well as the primaries in many neighboring states.

Voters believe that, if elected, Clinton would bring little positive change to the nation and that Trump would bring the wrong kind of change. They call the campaign so far a “mess,” a “joke” and a “circus.” The poll also revealed that in head-to-head general election matchups, both Clinton and Sanders would top Trump.

Though still far behind Trump and Cruz in the polls, Gov. John Kasich has now surpassed Rubio and is enjoying an increased positive image in the public’s eye. If Trump fails to arrive at the convention with enough delegates to clinch the nomination, Kasich would be seen as a possible wildcard. He desperately needs to run first in his home state of Ohio on March 15.


The Loyola University Institute of Politics has rescheduled the seventh annual Ed Renwick Lecture featuring New Orleans-based national political consultants James Carville and Mary Matalin for Wednesday, March 30 at 7 p.m. at Loyola University’s Nunemaker Auditorium, Monroe Hall. The event is free and open to the public and will include a reception after the program.

Danae Columbus has had a 30-year career in public relations, including stints at City Hall and the Dock Board. She currently works for the Orleans Parish School Board. Among the recent candidates who have been represented by her public relations firm are City council members Stacy Head and Jared Brossett, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.

12 thoughts on “Danae Columbus: United Cab says business down 50 percent since arrival of Uber, and now Lyft

  1. United Cab is a shadow of it’s former self, and it has nothing to do with Uber. There was a time when you’d call 522-9771 and get a local who knew very nearly every block of the city. Today you get a guy who just got here from Nigeria by way of New York that is confused to find that “Bon Temps” is a different place from “Le Bon Temps” and needs to consult Waze to find either one.

  2. So United is upset – me thinks they do protest too much. They are unreliable, their telephone dispatchers are rude, and their drivers are offensive. So go cry me a river and face the fact United – you created the loyalty to Uber because of your disloyalty to this community.

  3. and there’s a flaw in their argument. United’s business should be up in high demand times when Uber doubles or triples their fares.

  4. Hey United,
    Maybe your drivers could make some money becoming UBER drivers. It is really easy – just go online and fill in a form or two. Then your riders could rate you drivers individually. They would have your names and they would be accountable And So Would your drivers!

  5. My Uber experiences have been great… UC, not so much. The chickens have come home to roost…good luck UC and Coleman’s… bye, bye.

  6. …and the day I was turned down by a UC driver for a fare because I wasn’t going to the airport from a Hornets game turned me off … good riddance.

  7. United is not reliable for a scheduled pickup, their dispatchers are rude, their drivers don’t know where they are or where they’re going, they double park in main roads during rush hour despite plenty of parking, and finally they lay on the horn at all hours of the night waiting on their fares. They are rude, ignorant, and inconsiderate. They don’t get an ounce of sympathy from me.

    • Not to mention how badly they drive on I-10. One going 50 in the left lane and another one going 80 in the right. I’ve never had an Uber drive that poorly.

  8. It still amazes me that in all these years you never hear United Cabs posting anything negative about the many drunk and abusive customers they have to deal with or the many cases where United was falsely accused of crimes that turned out to be lies or false! They don’t even post about the many customers they took out of the city (some for free) during Katrina evacuation! Or the many times they have assisted in police investigations to catch culprits. Does any one remember the United driver that saw a person get stabbed in the French quarter and rushed him to the hospital and saved his life? I am not saying there isn’t room for improvement in all of us but when did this community become the kind of people that enjoy “kicking a dog when they are down” or treating people as if they are only good when they are of use to us. Try reporting the problems to the company like you would do for any other business you were unhappy with! Or if you really want to be a decent person try remembering all the service United has provided up until the time you decided to become this negative voice!

  9. Good! Our welcomed Uber with open arms and immediately canceled our cab accounts as we were just plain sick of the rude drivers. They wouldn’t take the routes suggested and consistently just had terrible attitudes.
    Smell ya later United!

  10. the difference in cost between the two is negligible. Its the terrible customer experience with United that is the difference

    1. Its impossible to get someone to answer the phone
    2. If someone does answer the phone, it’s anyone’s guess when, or even if, a cab will actually show up
    3. The drivers are rude, often refuse to take you to your requested location, and frequently refuse non-cash forms of payment.
    5. Drivers frequently insist on charging flat rates and not using the meter
    4. Very few drivers are familiar with the city.

    United Cab and the entire taxi cab industry is just pissed they got blind sided by a better idea. Ask record companies about that when the pesky internet showed up and ruined their monopoly too.

    On a related note. Has anyone had experience with Uber Taxi in other cities? I assume its a way that taxi cabs can take advantage of the conveniences that Uber provides?

  11. The arrival of Uber and Lyft (and the *predictable* reduction in cab business that resulted…) are a 100% demonstration about what free markets can do in a community.

    It’s a beautiful, freedom driven result that has happened. Competition rose, prices dropped, customer satisfaction increased.

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