Taxi biz closes in race for business

More people have chosen to use Harbor Transit buses, as evidenced by the municipal bus service's record ridership for 2013.
Alex Doty
Jan 25, 2014

Despite the ramp-up of service in new areas, Harbor Transit Director Tom Manderscheid said he doesn’t think the organization competes with other ride services.

“I see no competition,” he said. “They do their thing and we do our thing.”

The transit service serves Grand Haven city and township; Ferrysburg; Spring Lake Village; and the Lloyds Bayou Senior Complex, Orchard Market, Heartwood Lodge and Oak Crest Manor in Spring Lake Township. The rest of Spring Lake Township isn’t serviced.

Manderscheid noted that one of the biggest things he thinks differentiates Harbor Transit from local taxi providers is their hours of operation. Harbor Transit isn’t open for late-night runs when bars close, while taxis have prime time to take advantage of those clients.

“(We refer them to taxis) when we can’t meet their needs or are going out of the service area,” Manderscheid said. “We don’t see them as competition at all.”

Nonetheless, Blue Dog Taxi LLC made its final run this week, and its general manager says it has been a difficult market with two strong taxi companies plus what he called an "incredible" public transportation system.

“Harbor Transit has started to take on a lot of those duties (that we do,)” said Bill Tombs, who helped start the Grand Haven-based Blue Dog Taxi service eight years ago. “We really got hurt when Harbor Transit got in Grand Haven Township.”

While Harbor Transit buses don't run at night, Manderscheid didn’t rule out the possibility of that in the future.

Tombs also cited as part of the decision to close Blue Dog Taxi are high maintenance costs, a dwindling driver pool and insurance taxi rates that are quadruple the rates of private vehicles.

“It’s basically $3,000 per vehicle for PLPD insurance (basic plan with no collision coverage),” he said.

To read more of this story, see Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.




Say no to new taxes

Sorry to see the Blue Dog Taxi service go away. When our daughter was involved in an accident in Muskegon, Blue Dog went there and returned her to GH even though it was out of their normal service area. They can't compete with a government run, money losing, property tax subsidized transportation service that gets their vehicles for free from the Federal Government.

Barry Soetoro

Yup. Way to go Harbor Transit. Manderscheid operates a taxpayer subsidized dial-a-ride taxi service with a inefficient fleet of 25 passenger buses and claims not to compete with Blue Dog. What a tool.

Beach Gal

You said it.


I wonder what the cost per passenger is between the two, what the insurance costs are for Harbor Transit, and how much the subsidy pays for the insurance.

I also wonder what the environmental costs are for running 25 underutilized buses versus a couple of passenger cars.

No matter how you cut it, government put Blue Dog out of business without any competitive analysis.

Former Grandhavenite

Harbor Transit is a great system. I didn't even realize just how cheap and convenient it was until I saw the public transit systems in a lot of other areas. Even cities that spend a fortune more on subways, fixed-route buses, bus rapid transit, light rail, etc don't have anywhere near the level of point to point service.

Being closed late nights is a serious drawback to Harbor Transit and it's hard to believe a taxi company couldn't make a killing if they offered some type of shuttle service for the late night bar crowd. Even just regular after-hours transportation to jobs, etc is definitely needed if a taxi company could do it at a reasonable price.

Harbor Transit just makes the area so much easier to get around and more accessible if someone doesn't drive for whatever reason. Say what you will about creeping socialism but I loved being able to meet my friends after school, then head down to the beach and go surfing before any of us could drive! Later on I used it to get to a job that wouldn't have been possible without a car otherwise. Roll on Harbor Transit, Roll On!


More business for Rosebud...........


Harbor transit was cheaper, plain and simple. Yes, it is subsidized by taxes, but when your average person pays their fare out of pocket, they are only thinking of that specific moment.

I never really understood why people would pay for a taxi or Harbor Transit for rides under ten miles (except for the late night drunk crowd obviously). A bicycle is a great free alternative. You often get places faster than a car during shorter trips (and certainly much faster than by taxi or HT), it is a great workout, and it tends to make you feel much better and more energetic. You don't even really get sweaty or gross at all, even on hot days.

having a thought

Harbor Transit is great... this taxi service left us stranded... 3 different times.. always told they'd be there in 5 minutes but no show.. last time they said 20 minutes but after 45 minutes we only got a recording after that... they were now only picking up medical appointments or something like that... ya I know 1st time stranded should have been enough... So we have been successfully using the "other" taxi service in town during non Harbor Transit hours...

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