A longtime State College area taxi service is shutting down at the end of January.
Handy Delivery announced on Wednesday that it is closing its taxi business on Jan. 31. The family-owned business will continue to operate its delivery, courier, chauffeur, warehouse, storage and parking services.
Noreen and Jim Byers have owned the cab company since purchasing it from State College Borough in 1981.
“We are so appreciative of the support the community has given us over the years,” Noreen Byers said in a statement. “Ending the taxi operations was a very difficult decision. We are so proud to be part of this community and hope we can continue with our other services for a very long time to come.”
For decades, Handy Delivery was the only taxi service in Centre County and its peak it operated 22 cabs serving the State College and Bellefonte areas. Today it has five taxis that will continue to run through the end of the month.
“The people have made it a wonderful experience for us over the decades,” Byers said. “We have been extremely fortunate to have had amazing employees who go above and beyond to serve the people of Centre County. Our employees and the drivers [who are independent contractors] are basically extended family to us. And we have many customers with whom we and the drivers have forged meaningful friendships over the years.”
Handy outlasted most of the competing taxi services the entered the local market in the early 2000s. But the Byers family says that like taxi businesses around the country, they struggled in the face of the “unfair competitive advantage” afforded to rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft.
Companies like Handy have long said that rideshare businesses have not been subject to the same strict regulations, putting traditional taxi businesses at a disadvantage.
“We know there are people who truly relied on us and we took pride in providing a friendly, efficient service to the best of our ability,” Byers said.
She added that a series of events that diminished the customer base led to the decision to close the taxi business, from deregulation of what was needed to open a taxi service and a flood of more companies than the area could sustain, to the loss of a longtime contract with CATA for paratransit services, to the issues with rideshare businesses, and finally to the impact of COVID-19.
“We probably should have closed years ago but we felt a real obligation to provide the service for those who needed it,” Byers said. “Unfortunately, we just can’t justify staying open in the face of today’s COVID-impacted economic reality.”
While closing the taxi operation, Byers is optimistic about the future of Handy’s other services. Its delivery operation, which has been in business since 1976, can handle large items like furniture and equipment and even does assembly. Its courier service offers deliveries such as mail routes, interoffice correspondence, prescriptions and other needs.
It will continue to provide professional drivers who can chauffeur clients in their personal vehicles, for example, to a medical facility.
Handy’s facility at 2197 High Tech Road, across from University Park Airport, offers warehousing, storage and long-term and short-term parking. Customers can also have items they purchase online shipped to Handy, assembled if needed and delivered to their home or office.
Byers said Handy does not anticipate any layoffs as it moves to expand its delivery services.
“The good news is that we feel there are lots of opportunities for us to expand our ability to meet the needs of the community with our variety of delivery, driving, storage and parking services,” she said. “We have expert personnel who are truly dedicated to serving our community and take great pride in the job they do.
“After 40 years, it is very difficult to say goodbye to the taxi company. But we believe we are on a good path to keep our local company growing. Our very dedicated staff has earned an outstanding reputation in service. We want to again thank the community for its support over the years and we are excited about the future.”
Handy Delivery can be reached at 814-355-5555 or [email protected]