Batavia cab service uses gentlemanly approach

Mar 21, 2016

BATAVIA — As Robert Thigpen III tips his cap, it’s not hard to see where the well-dressed chauffeur that serves as New Boyz Transportation’s logo comes from, both stylistically and spiritually.

Thigpen, who launched the Batavia-based transportation service last year, aims to stand out in an industry filled with larger companies in Buffalo and Rochester and ride-sharing apps by being a gentleman.

He doesn’t welcome riders as they sit down in his Town and Country; they’ve already had their door opened for them. And the service, which for in-Batavia trips is $5, doesn’t end when it reaches their destination.

“I’ll carry your groceries to the house, I go to the door,” Thipgen said. “I love it. If someone is having a bad day, I try to cheer them up.”

Starting a transportation company can be a challenge, from establishing a business, getting livery insurance and Medicaid certification, and keeping up a fleet of vehicles. But Thigpen is made for it, said Tiffany Wright, his right-hand woman.

“He was always giving people rides, and it something he wanted to do, to be his own CEO,” Wright said.

“Ever since I was a kid, steering a car in the driveway, I’ve loved it,” Thigpen said. “We stayed in the country, my friend a field car and we used to tear it up.”

“I saw other people doing (transportation) and thought, this is my calling,” he added.

He didn’t pursue NASCAR, and becoming a long-haul truck driver didn’t have the personal connection he wanted.

Keeping up conversations over the 48-hour cascade of trips each weekend can be a mental marathon, but it’s been an enjoyable challenge. Thigpen said he’s learned a lot about the people and his hometown.

“I never let the car have crickets. ... People tell me everything that’s going on,” Thigpen said. “I’m happy with Batavia. There’s nowhere better to start than right here.”

In addition to the regular calls, New Boyz has picked up contracts with Le Roy Manor and UMMC for outpatient transports, and is bidding for a special routes contract with the Batavia City Schools.

The Medicaid transportations start around 8 a.m. each day. Wright keeps everything running smoothly, trying to keep multiple starting points and destinations from creating inefficient zig-zagging around the GLOW region.

“He loves to drive, but I’m the type of person who needs everything to flow,” Wright said. “We have a great partnership. The work chemistry is there. I plan out the day before he gets started ... and we fit in as many people in Batavia as we can.”

She said calling ahead is the key. She handles the hotline at (585) 300-9476 and keeps an eye on rides requested on their Facebook page.

The business currently uses the Chrysler as the main taxi and a Chevrolet Impala for Medicaid transports. Wright said they are adding a 12-passenger Ford passenger van for bringing groups to concerts at Darien Lake, trips to Seneca Niagara and to Pennsylvania outlet malls during tax-free shopping periods.

As the service grows, New Boyz intends to add cars stationed in Le Roy and hopefully Oakfield and Warsaw in the future. Batavia makes for a good home base — it’s in the middle of everywhere.

“I know the guys in Buffalo and Rochester. It’s not where I want to be,” Thigpen said. “My customers are like family, my cab is their cab.”

The localized outlook of the business is key to standing out among existing operators. If the competition grows from state deregulation to allow Uber, Lyft and other apps to come in, Wright said the personalized care will help New Boyz stand out. They hope to launch their own ride-booking app soon.

“I feel we’ve already established our name because we have (a level of service) that other people don’t have,” Wright said.

It’s the comfort of familiarity, like the kind you develop at the barbershop. A tap can connect you to another driver, but you’ll trust the guy who knows how you like it.

Especially if he gets the door.

Jim Krencik/Batavia Daily News