David Lee of Rideshop Cabs. PHOTO/FILE

ELI HILL
eli.hill@age.co.nz

It just got a whole lot harder to hail a cab in Masterton.

The sudden closure of one of Wairarapa’s biggest cab companies, Rideshop Cabs, on Sunday, has left five people out of work and clients looking for alternative transport.

Rideshop, which was incorporated in 2005, began as a taxi company before becoming Rideshop Cabs in 2009.

Before Sunday it had three to four vehicles operating from 6am to 6pm daily.

Rideshop owner David Lee said there were several reasons for his business shutting shop.

“One of the things that really affected us was the change in liquor laws a while back. Before that, nights were quite a lucrative time but afterwards it just dropped off and we had to close night-time operation.

“Also, there’s deregulation of the industry and Trust House running their health shuttle services for pretty much nothing, as well as St John and Red Cross. That takes a toll on the number of customers you serve.”

Lee said the five employees of Rideshop – some of whom are part time – should all be able to get jobs.

“We have one of the largest passenger transport companies, Tranzit, based here in Wairarapa, and there’s Cross Country Rentals as well.

“They’re all good at their jobs and I’ll be happy to provide a good endorsement for all of them.”

Lee said he would work to tidy up loose ends over the next few months.

“My biggest regret with closing the business is losing the relationship I’ve had with my customers. We have a lot of loyal customers and it’s really sad to be closing like this.”

Among those most affected by the closure are people with various types of disabilities.

CCS Disability Action access and infrastructure national manager BJ Clark said the loss of the service would severely restrict some people with disabilities in Wairarapa.

“I do know that Rideshop had some larger vehicles that would be able to support different types of mobility equipment.

“I understand there is another option – Driving Miss Daisy is operating in the region, but they may be limited in the type of mobility equipment they can take.”

Clark said the loss of Rideshop would also reduce people’s choices.

“The loss of this service has wider implications than we realise. If someone just wants to go to the movies in the weekend or visit their doctor they might end up needing to book a week in advance.”

A worker at the Masterton CCS Disability Action Branch said almost everybody she worked with had told her transport was an issue for them.

Driving Miss Daisy Wairarapa owner Brenda Lakeman said her business welcomed the challenge of keeping up with the increase in demand.

“We’ve received plenty of new inquiries since the closure of Rideshop – now we’re the only transport for people with mobility challenges so our vehicles are in demand.”

Lakeman said her company operates three vehicles but was looking to add two more to its fleet.

“It’s always been my intention to grow the business as demand dictates.

“I’m sad to see Rideshop go, it’s always good for people to have choices, but we will work hard to make sure everyone can get to the places they need to.”