Outlook 2013: Hybrid taxi cab company making green from going green
SARATOGA SPRINGS Saratoga Hybrid Cab has joined hybrid taxi cab companies across the United States in providing cleaner, greener transportation for their customers.
Byron Norsworthy, founder and manager of Saratoga Hybrid Cab, started his business in 2011 with just one Toyota Prius cab. He had been working at another cab company as a temporary job and decided to venture out on his own.
“I was having a hard time finding a real job,” Norsworthy said. He said he graduated from Cornell University in 2006 with an arts degree.
So he started the company he describes as “Saratoga County’s cleaner, greener taxi.”
Saratoga Hybrid Cab now has two Prius sedans and a large Highlander hybrid for taking larger groups to the train station in Rensselaer or down to Albany International Airport.
“I saw other cities and towns having success with hybrids,” he said.
He said many of the taxis in Boston are Camry hybrids, New York City has been encouraging its taxi companies to switch to hybrids and in Burlington, Vt., Green Cab VT is popular.
“It’s definitely a trend on the East Coast and West Coast,” Norsworthy said. He said San Francisco and Los Angeles have hybrid taxi fleets.
Saratoga Hybrid Cab now has a total of six part- and full-time drivers. “I do a lot of driving myself,” Norsworthy said.
“We do a lot of business during the [thoroughbred] track season,” Norsworthy said. But he said the conventions that are booked on a regular basis throughout the year at the Saratoga Springs City Center and other locations also generate business, especially to and from Albany International Airport and to and from the Saratoga Springs train station off West Avenue or the train station in Rensselaer.
Norsworthy is from Reading, Pa., but his wife was raised in Greenfield and they moved to Saratoga Springs to be close to her family. They have a three-year-old daughter.
“It’s paying the bills. I needed to make a living and help support a family,” Norsworthy said.
“I work probably 90 hours a week, more during the summer,” he said. “If I’m not driving, I’m dispatching.”
He said the Prius is an excellent taxi. He said its gets two to three times the mileage compared to a conventional, non-hybrid taxi sedan. His cabs get 40 miles per gallon in the winter and 50 miles per gallon in the summer months.
He operates the business out of his apartment on South Franklin Street, keeping his overhead as low as possible.
He said owning his own business can be difficult at tax time, especially when dealing with the federal self-employment tax.
“If you are self-employed, you pay taxes twice,” he said, refering to paying a personal income tax and also the self-employment tax. He has an accountant handle his taxes, but he keeps all of his own books.
“It’s not hard trying to find people willing to work, but it’s hard to find people who are reliable and have a clean driving record,” Norsworthy said.
Norsworthy said he likes the idea that his hybrid cabs are better for the environment, with a smaller carbon footprint than conventional cabs.
“I consider myself a concerned citizen,” he said. He said he’s trying to do his part in making the world more environmentally sustainable.
He noted his cabs do not have meters in them. Saratoga Springs is a flat-rate city, with set rates the cabs can charge.
To read all the stories from the 2013 Outlook special report, click here.