Websites like eBay and Priceline let consumers pay what they want for everything from designer gowns to airline tickets. Now, if you live in Essex, Vermont, you can exercise that same financial control when it comes to taxi fares. Eric Hagen, a part-time cab driver has been offering “pay what you want” rides in his Recession Ride Taxi since June.
Hagen not only offers passengers the right to pay whatever they feel is fair for the ride, he also applies his unique pricing model to cold drinks available in the cab, and offers a “frequent rider” punch card. After 7 paid rides, your next trip is free.
The local Days Inn now uses Hagen to transport guests to the airport whenever possible, and Hagen says he has been so successful that he’s thinking about expanding and hiring more drivers. He says no one has undercut him, though he has been paid with items like a $10 grocery card and a music CD.
Unfortunately, I doubt this business model could become widely popular, as taxi companies are strictly regulated and drivers are required to turn on their meters for every fare. But perhaps a few intrepid private cab operators will follow Hagen’s lead and bring “pay what you want” fares to more locations around the country.