Falling Gas Prices Putting Brakes On Tulsa Cab Drivers
TULSA, Oklahoma - People at the pump are singing for joy as gas prices in Oklahoma are below $2 a gallon - dipping down to a $1.79 in Broken Arrow.
While it's an early Christmas gift for many Oklahomans, it's actually hurting some businesses, especially taxi drivers.
It's one of the busiest travel times of the year, and Tulsa taxis are barely moving; cab drivers blame it on the low gas prices.
"It took 11 hours to get my second run," said Royal Taxi driver, Christopher Moore. “It's been that way since about the middle part of last week."
Plummeting gas prices are putting the brakes on Moore's business.
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"Some days you're going home with $65, other days you're going home with $18," he said.
Out of all the major cities in the U.S., AAA said Tulsa has the lowest average price of gas at $1.93.
Moore said cheaper gas means drivers are driving themselves to pick relatives up at the airport, rather than calling cabs.
"It's tough. I got five kids, you know, it's two days before Christmas and my lay-away is still sitting in lay-away," he said.
Moore is just one of more than 30 cab drivers sitting and waiting, sometimes 20 hours a day, for riders.
This week, drivers are averaging two rides a day.
"We were excited. It's like, 'Oh yeah, gas is coming down,' but then, instead of using a tank a day, you start using a half a tank a day, then, now we're down to about a quarter tank a day. So in reality, we're not really seeing anything because we're not really using the low gas prices because we're not going anywhere," Moore said.
Moses Tirado drives for Yellow Checker. He used to work for Green Cab, but Green Cab went out of business this month.
Tirado said low gas prices are hurting cab companies more than helping.
"Well, I mean it's nice, but we don't move. We don't burn the gas," he said.
Moore said, "It should turn around eventually, you know, you just stay positive."
New tech-taxi companies in Tulsa, like Uber and Lyft, are also hurting the traditional taxi companies because there's more competition.
3/27/2014 Related Story: 'Tech Taxi' Service Makes Its Way To Tulsa
When gas prices are above $3 a gallon, taxis charge an additional dollar per ride, another cut to cab companies' profits this season.