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El Paso taxi companies hard hit by pandemic, adapting to serve riders in safest way possible

mask wearing taxi driver
KVIA
Andale Ride driver Juan Hernandez wears a face mask and gloves while picking up a customer.

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- Taxi companies have gone through some difficult times in recent years.

Ride-share apps have deeply cut into their profits, and now the coronavirus pandemic is putting the whole industry at risk.

“When it all started. our bookings dropped substantially," Andale Ride owner Joe Olivar said. "Half of our drivers decided they were not comfortable driving.”

The El Paso-based taxi company has had to adapt to these changing times. But, business is now slowly starting to pick up. All drivers are required to wear face masks and gloves and they all have hand sanitizer and wipes in their cabs.

"We've been designated as an essential service," Olivar said. "People still need to get to the grocery store. They’ve gotta eat. They still have got to get to the doctors office when they have those appointments.”

One of Olivar's drivers has also come up with an innovative solution to limit contact with riders.

Juan Hernandez put up a divider with a plastic window that separates him from his customers.

"We have a big problem with coronavirus," Hernandez said. "I offer them gloves or sanitizer. If the customer needs it, I can provide them.”

Hernandez has been a cab driver for 12 years. He's seen ups and downs in the business before, but never one that's put his life and his livelihood at risk.

“He was one of the drivers that decided he felt unsafe to take a couple of weeks off until we figured out how this was going to play out," Olivar said. "In the mean time, what he was doing was he was getting innovative. I love the ingenuity of our people.”

After each ride, the drivers wipe down seats and disinfect surfaces that customers may have touched.

Andale Ride has an app and customers can also set up appointments online.

Coronavirus Video / El Paso / News / Video

Mauricio Casillas

El Paso native Mauricio Casillas co-anchors ABC-7’s Good Morning El Paso.

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