Howe Caverns to guests: Don’t Uber here

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara calls for an Uber ride from the Rivers Casino.

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara calls for an Uber ride from the Rivers Casino.

HOWES CAVE — Pro: Rideshare drivers in Albany and Schenectady have taken passengers as far as Howe Caverns. 

Con: It’s typically a one-way trip. 

Within the last two years, several visitors have been stranded at the rural Cobleskill attraction after failing to locate a Uber or Lyft for pickup nearby. 

Howe Caverns General Manager April Islip remembers an Oklahoma couple marooned at the Schoharie County site after a bevy of cab companies refused to make the trek.

“They must have called a dozen different companies in a matter of two hours and finally, they ended up paying an employee $200 to drive them back to Albany,” Islip said. 

The most recent incident occurred last week, prompting the cave attraction company to post an advisory on social media: “You must have your own transportation to and from our property.”

The notice got the attention of two Schoharie County-based drivers, willing to extend their services in the event of another incident.

One of them is David Barmen of Middleburgh-based Style Car Service, who only knows of two other cab services in the county. Schoharie County has the smallest population — 29,863 — of all 11 counties in the greater Capital Region. 

Barmen mostly serves clientele in Albany County, albeit the frequency has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of my clients are now working remotely,” Barmen said. “Most of my clients were people coming up from the city on the train and stuff, so things have changed so I reached out to them.”

Taxicab services have been available more prominently in the core Capital Region for nearly a century. Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft were legalized statewide in 2017. 

Howe Caverns recently attempted to contact both ride-hailing providers in hopes of axing the attraction as a drop-off location.

“One guest had private-messaged us and explained that when you type ‘Howe Caverns’ in their app, it actually is showing as an available pickup location, but we can’t get any drivers to come here,” Islip said. 

Uber and Lyft didn’t respond to a request for comment.

In the past, Howe Caverns has unsuccessfully proposed that Schoharie County Public Transportation have a route go to and from the attraction. 

The small 48-year-old service currently has four deviation routes, three commuter routes and three demand response routes. Some weekday services go as far as Albany and Cooperstown. 

“It’s not manpower as much as it is the market,” said Schoharie County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Federice. “There may be some busy times, but we try to lay out our routes and our assets, according to where the demand is.”

Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-395-3047 or [email protected]. Follow him on Facebook at Tyler A. McNeil, Daily Gazette or Twitter @TylerAMcNeil


Categories: -News-, Fulton Montgomery Schoharie

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