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Cabs are here! The rideshare app that’s squaring off with Uber and Lyft in Columbus

Asa Herron

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Cover image by Kiera Franks

Columbus is the newest battleground in the war being waged between rideshare apps and the OG taxi. Luckily, we stand to gain some added affordability and safety as more companies like WINICabs set up shop in our city. WINICabs is a rideshare app for hailing taxis in Columbus that launched in late August. It serves as an umbrella app for all the taxi companies in the city, so you get whichever taxi is closest.

The company is the brainchild of Paul O’louglin Kennedy, a jovial Dublin, Ireland native who aims to give customers more options in getting around. The app works dynamically around the customer, and is a lot like other rideshare services where you request a ride and get the nearest one. You can also schedule your ride beforehand.

Additionally, you have more options when you pay than with Uber and Lyft. Paying through the app is as easy as the others, but you can also pay the driver in-person with cash or card.

Kennedy puts it best: “We don’t care, as long as you pay the driver.” In the future, he sees WINICabs working with Ohio State to accept BuckID cash as payment.

However, the option of paying with cash or swiping your card is not really enough to convince consumers to stop using rideshares outright. The real advantage is the taxi driver, as Kennedy explains.

“We’re working with taxis because they’re licensed, they’re insured, they’re background-checked. When you get a taxi in Columbus, you’re getting a driver that has been triple background-checked. There’s the city of Columbus background check, the fingerprint background check, and a TSA background check since they work at the airport. Over the years, rules have been drawn up to protect people in taxis. It does give a safer ride.”

This comes at a perfect time for OSU students figuring out how to navigate nightlife safely since student safety rides were shut down this year. Some feel that the deal the university struck with Lyft has been far from ideal, and public transit at night is not very efficient or safe.

“It was the taxi drivers themselves that came to me with that idea. They said, ‘We want what the ride shares have. We want people to know the fare beforehand, and we want to discount it so we can compete,’” Kennedy proudly shares.

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However, even he can acknowledge the difficulties that are part of the rideshare game. “It is a bit of a race to the bottom. It’s hard to compete with a company that loses five billion every bloody quarter because they’re pumping so much money in to break the market,” Kennedy says.

Nonetheless, he remains hopeful. Claiming, “They can’t break the market. If they could, it would have happened already.”

Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft have secured massive amounts of funding through investments from Wall Street. This has allowed them to water down prices and take losses in the short-term while relying on their investors’ cash and the promise of long-term profitability from monopolization. Kennedy understands this better than anyone.

“It’s a awed business model. It doesn’t make enough for people to make a living out of, and it doesn’t make enough for the company to make a profit out of. What they’re trying to do is undercut the taxi industry and push them out of the business. Can you imagine what the price of an Uber or Lyft would be if the last taxi driver was run out of business? However, our model has a chance of making a profit and providing people with a decent living.”

There’s no doubt that taxis and rideshares are at war, but why did WINICabs make Columbus its battleground?

“You have a unique group of taxi drivers in Columbus,” Kennedy answers. “You have a group called the Independent Taxicab Association of Columbus (ITAC). It’s the only city, particularly in the US, that I have come across where the taxi drivers are working together. They’re all competing against each other, but they come together under this umbrella organization. It’s effectively an insurance co-op. They reached out to us after I did an interview with the local ABC station in our test town, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Someone saw it on the web and said, ‘That’s what we want.’”

This is a tremendous opportunity for rideshare customers in Columbus to experience the next wave in transportation. Plus, the aesthetic value it provides to hipsters looking for the classic yellow cab Insta is incalculable. Kennedy believes the service is generally much better because he sees his team of WINICabbers as professional drivers.

“Most of them are immigrants. If you sit down and talk with them, you realize they are the epitome of the American dream. A number of them are doing programs at OSU or C-State, and they’re very proud.”

Winicabs is available for download in the App store and on Google Play.

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Lifestyle

New Polaris gym raising the Barre

614now Staff

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A recently-opened Polaris gym wants to raise the barre on your fitness this year.

Pure Barre, the largest barre franchise in North America, opened its doors in Columbus on January 9 at 1513 Gemini Place.

The new studio will offer members a low-impact, total-body workout using a ballet barre and small pulsing movements to strengthen and tone. Each Pure Barre class is designed as an intense workout that improves endurance, flexibility, and balance. 

Pure Barre Polaris is owned and operated by Amanda and Nathan Bradish, who both graduated from Ohio State University and have lived in Columbus for almost 10 years.

“Barre is a low impact, high intensity workout that is safe on joints while also toning and strengthening your muscles,” said Amanda. “Any age and fitness level can benefit from barre because of its low impact. I’ve been waiting for Pure Barre to finally come to the Polaris area, so I’m excited to combine my passions and be the one to bring it to the neighborhood.”

To give the Columbus community an opportunity to become familiar with the Pure Barre experience, the studio will celebrate its opening with free classes on Feb. 22-23.

Pure Barre Polaris is open daily. The studio can be reached online at www.purebarre.com or by phone at 614-787-5559.

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Food & Drink

Brewery District bakery to close after 10 years

614now Staff

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The Brewery District will be sans a bakery in just a few short days.

After 10 years, Kolache Republic will be serving its last pastry on Saturday, February 8.

"We are truly grateful to our community of customers, friends, family and staff who have supported us in our pursuit to bring a unique food experience to this vibrant city as Columbus’ first and only kolache bakery," wrote Kolache Republic on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/Kolacherepublic/posts/3438844786142628

Other than deciding it was "time to hang up our oven mitts and start a new chapter," the Czech pastry shop did not provide a reason for the closure.

If you're planning on showing a lot of love for Kolache Republic before it closes, Kolache recommends calling ahead for any orders of a dozen or more.

Kolache Republic is located at 730 S High St.

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Crime

Former meteorologist Mike Davis to plead guilty on child pornography charges

614now Staff

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According to court records and a report from his onetime employer, former 10TV meteorologist Mike Davis will plead guilty to the child pornography charges against him.

In his trial, scheduled for January 30, Davis is expected to plead guilty to four counts of pandering sexually-oriented matter involving a minor.

Davis is accused of uploading more than 15,000 images of suspected child pornography using a Yahoo email address. He was arrested on September 5 after the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) was tipped off to the alleged activities.

The indictment against him alleges that since 2012, Davis regularly downloaded and emailed to himself videos and images depicting young children engaging in sexual activity.

Davis originally pleaded not guilty to all charges in October 2019. Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said no plea deal has been offered in the case and his office will seek jail time for Davis.

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