Published on January 29th, 2015 | by TLV News0
Angel Taxi: Here To Stay
Sue Lacrosse, owner of Angel Taxi, is no stranger these days to being in the news. But the good news is that Angel Taxi isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Lacrosse started the company in 2004, over a decade ago. “I did this to save all the kids here and help this community. When I opened there weren’t O.U.T. buses. There wasn’t another cab service that worked 24–7, to get people to work,” she said.
Lacrosse has been running the business out of her South Oaks home now for years. Even though that area was annexed by the city in 2007, the city has been renewing her privilege tax license for the past several years to stay in business there.
Still, Lacrosse was slapped with a $500 fine back in September and was told she needed to get permission to run the business out of her home. Since then she’s had to tell her drivers they aren’t allowed to come to her house in their taxi vehicles, and she meets them once a week at a restaurant to complete payroll. And she’s moved the single commercial vehicle she says was sitting at her house—a blue limousine. “It’s not even in Lafayette County anymore,” she says.
All Lacrosse wanted was permission to answer phone calls and emails from her home, and to keep her payroll records there “because it’s safe.” But in early January, a “Public Notice” sign was placed in her yard. The sign read: “This property being considered for special exemption to allow a home occupation,” and gave the information for an Oxford Planning Commission meeting on January 12.
The Planning Commission voted to disallow Lacrosse to continue operating Angel Taxi from her home, since it’s located in an area zoned exclusively for residential dwellings. This, she says, is when people started asking her if she was going out of business. “No, I’m not. I’m not going to stop operating. I’ve done what they said, which was move the limo. I’ve gotten an address for my business, between here and Batesville.”
Of the ruling Lacrosse said, “It’s ok, it’s the rules. I’ll follow the rules—I already am. Since this all started I’ve basically been running my business out of my car anyway.”
But during this process, she drove around her subdivision and snapped pictures of other business owners in her subdivision who bring their commercial vehicles home, which she says was one of the city’s main complaints about running Angel Taxi out of her home. She hopes that since she’s being made an example, others will be forced to follow the rules as well. “I just want it to be fair,” she says.
More than a decade since its establishment, Angel Taxi has grown to help meet the needs of its passengers. Even though the current count has gotten up to 16 taxi companies operating in Oxford, our readers have voted Angel as “Oxford’s Favorite Taxi Service” for the past two years, and Oxford Eagle readers have included Angel Taxi in their “Best of Oxford” poll in 2007–2009 and again in 2014.
Any in-depth conversation with Lacrosse about the taxi business leads to a reminder that taxis are important to our community for more than just the timeframe when bars close. “You kind of don’t see it cause you might just take a cab from a bar home, but we’re so much more than that… I didn’t do this for money,” says Lacrosse. “You never see me out and about in something flashy. I don’t care about that. I want to help that little family right there get to the doctor if their car’s broke.”
In other news, look for Angel Taxi to roll out a new, exciting option in a few weeks: riders will soon have the option to use a smartphone app to order their Angel Taxi ride. The app, called Ergon, works a lot like Uber. But the San Francisco based Uber is having trouble finding drivers for the Oxford area right now—since our city waged a small war on the rideshare company, nobody really seems to want to risk being arrested to drive for them. Plus, when you get a ride with a local company like Angel Taxi, you’re supporting local workers and local business.
“The app is supposed to be touch-button, very very easy.” Lacrosse says, “You can order your taxi via the app or you can call. There’s a real dispatcher seeing when you order the cab.” The fare will be submitted to the next available driver by a tablet mounted in the taxi—the driver can then either accept or decline the fare. “It’s supposed to make us more efficient,” says Lacrosse.
We at TLV will be sure to let you know when this app goes live for Angel Taxi. It’s a big step in embracing change and bringing the taxi business model into a new era of technology.
This article was originally printed in The Local Voice #221 (printed January 22, 2015.)
To download a PDF of this issue, click here.