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During And After Harvey, One Houston Ride Hailing Company Never Stopped Helping

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Ray Martin says he was one of the first drivers for Lyft in the city of Houston. He started back in 2014

“At first it was good…passengers were saving money..drivers were making a good wage. It was good for everybody. But then what Uber and Lyft decided to do was get in a pricing war with each other and try to put every company out of business” -Ray Martin

Martin says the drivers started losing money. So, he decided to create his own company for independent drivers… The Taxi Club of Greater Houston.  Martin started with one car. His own. And it just grew from there. He got a website, brought on more drivers, and more people to build the service’s technological infrastructure.

Now fast forward to 2017.

During Harvey, Martin says The Taxi Club of Greater Houston stayed on the roads after other ride companies stopped. Drivers pulled long hours and often gave free rides. Vipul Divecha the Taxi Club’s Chief Technical Officer spent hours fielding phone calls and working to update a map he made using google maps…one he originally created to mark parade routes back when he was a Lyft driver.

“My significant other came up to me at one point in the afternoon and said ‘Hey have you showered today, You’ve been at this 18 Hours” -Vipul Divecha

After a series of floods in Houston in the last few years, he realized the map worked better as a tool to help navigate a flooded city. As waters rose in Houston, he says people began contacting him about the map. So he shared it with his drivers and others on twitter and all over the web.

“My Family is Hindu and I wished I had Shiva arms and I could post and type to multiple places at once.” -Vipul Divecha

At one point the map had a half million users helping to update it. And the phones kept ringing. Divecha says wait times for their cars reached up to two days at one point. Driver’s would even make runs to other cities, and then drive back to pick up more people in Houston.

A portion of the rides Taxi Club of Greater Houston gave -- and say they’re still giving --  to Harvey Victims are discounted or free of charge. Owner Ray Martin thinks this spirit is what separates them from their competitors. 

“Take an Uber or a Lyft most of the drivers aren’t making anything on most of the rides…or very little… so it’s hard for a driver to afford to be able to do something for someone who is underprivileged or in a bad situation to help out whereas we have that ability.” -Ray Martin

According to Martin they’re in talks to find investors and venture capital and hope to expand their service statewide and eventually nationwide. In Waco, I’m Will Burney.

You can view and add to the map at bit.ly/htownfloodmap