Columbia taxis prepare for New Year\'s Eve

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COLUMBIA - Liberty Taxi was just one of many companies Tuesday preparing for the spike in business on New Year's Eve. It was the proverbial "calm before the storm."

Daniel Brizendine, a driver and dispatcher, said Liberty expects an uptick in phone calls. The company will have two phone dispatchers and all their drivers active from 9 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. Brizendine also said he wants Columbia residents to make it home safe rather than put their lives or others' lives in jeopardy.

"It is the busiest night of the year," Brizendine said. "What we're hoping is that Columbia residents choose to use taxi services."

Brizendine also talked about Uber, the ridesharing service that has been under a sting operation by the City of Columbia. Brizendine said he's been following the strike some taxi companies have started in Raleigh, North Carolina because of Uber's entrance into the playing field.

"It's the same issue [we have here]," Brizendine said. "Nearly every cab in the United States has to play by a set of rules. Uber doesn't play by those rules."  

Jaime Moore, a spokesperson for Uber, gave a statement to KOMU when the city first started ticketing the company's drivers.

"We have been working with the city to craft smart regulations that prioritize safety and consumer choice, as the current regulations do not yet contemplate the ridesharing model," Moore said. "We look forward to continuing our discussions so that officials can redirect their enforcement activities to legitimate public safety issues such as drunk driving - a problem that Uber is actually helping to solve in cities throughout the country."

Other taxi services operating New Year's Eve include Taxi Terry, Economy Cab, and SmartRide.