"For a good time, take a Buffalo taxi"
Alex Van Horn's view of taxi drivers changed forever one afternoon.
During her freshman year, Van Horn called Buffalo Transportation to take her to the airport for Thanksgiving break. With all the stress of packing, checking in and catching her flight, Van Horn, now a sophomore communication major, left her laptop on the seat in the cab, only realizing once she passed through security.
After frantically calling her cab driver, Van Horn was assured that Gary, her driver whom she had just met, would hold onto her computer until she returned from break.
UB students are able to experience one-of-a-kind cab rides through Buffalo Transportation. While many believe the drive within a cab is just a mere means of transportation, some students feel it is much more than that.
"I didn't expect a complete stranger to be so caring," Van Horn said. "When I returned from break, he picked me up from the airport with my laptop waiting in the car."
Igor Muchnik, who goes by 'Gary' to his customers, held on to Van Horn's computer over break, eager to return it to his new customer. Van Horn and her friends continue to go to Gary whenever they need a cab.
"To me, customers are the same [whether that be] students or anybody else - as long as they are nice and respectable," Gary said.
Van Horn isn't the only student at UB who puts great trust in cab drivers.
Ethan Mirenberg, a sophomore accounting major, believes the cab drivers in Buffalo are incomparable to drivers anywhere else. When he called Jamal, his favorite cab driver, he knew he was in for an interesting experience.
Drunken people were roaming around the streets and refusing to move out of the way, Mirenberg said. Jamal honked the horn, but no one moved out of the way.
"After finally making it around the pedestrians, we could tell Jamal was pissed," Mirenberg said. "I'm sure he had a long night dealing with stupid drunk kids, and the addition of the snowstorm definitely didn't help. Jamal stopped the cab, we got out, made some snowballs, hopped back into the cab and launched snowballs at the drunk people through the open cab door as we drove past them."
After an enjoyable cab ride for everyone, Jamal even gave Mirenberg and his friends a reduced fare. Mirenberg was sure Jamal was happy to have so much fun on the job after a long night.
Jamal is originally from New York City. His desire for a better life led him to Buffalo.
"The rent was too high in the city," Jamal said. "Now in Buffalo, I have three houses, a wife and a kid."
Jamal loves driving UB students around. He said the difference between regular customers and UB students is that he has fun with the students.
Danielle Miesch, a freshman speech and hearing science major, loves riding with "cab driver Paul" when she goes out with her friends.
Miesch and her group of friends called two cabs to pick them up from the Richmond Loop. While Miesch and a few of her friends entered Paul's cab, the other driver waited for the remaining friends to show up.
"The two drivers were talking to each other about the situation and we felt really bad," Miesch said. "Paul was so understanding and to ensure we didn't feel bad, he started cracking jokes the entire time with the other driver who was still waiting at the loop. They kept making jokes and referencing 'cab driver problems,' as if they were sending tweets on Twitter. We had such a good time with him that we called him later that night to take us home."
Kelsey Flanagan, a freshman undecided major, agrees that cab rides in Buffalo are as crazy as they come.
"One night, about 10 of us squished into a cab and got about 10 houses down before a cop pulled us over," Flanagan said. "He noticed that the cab's lights were out and then realized how many of us were really in the cab. The officer decided not to give our cab driver a ticket as long as we all got out. Our driver fought with the officer to drive at least just the girls to our destination so they wouldn't have to walk in the cold."
In addition to a cab ride that can be more fun than a night out, Buffalo Transportation also offers deals for UB students. Students have the option of paying for cabs with Campus Cash and even qualify for flat rates to a number of different locations.
"I think that cab drivers here in Buffalo are just so used to driving college kids around and are used to the drama and squishing, which is why they are so friendly," Flanagan said. "They even work out pricing with you and are really patient and understanding about students gathering money to pay for the cabs. If someone isn't feeling well, they will pull over, and they keep bags and napkins around just in case."
Each cab ride brings a new story to share.
By creating meaningful relationships with cab drivers and sharing in pleasant experiences, many UB students use the same cab driver every time they need a ride.