Recession Ride: The Taxi That Lets YOU Set the Fare

Ever have half a mind to tell a cab driver: “You’ll take whatever I give you — and like it”?!

Well, today’s your lucky day.


There’s a new taxi service in Burlington, Vt., where you do just that: Pay the driver what you want — or can afford.

“Recession Ride Taxi” was created by Eric Hagen, a Red Cross employee who used to work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, as a way to give people a break in this tough economy and make a little extra money on the side.

“Everything today revolves around money,” Hagen said. “I wanted to take that out of the equation — to empower the customer. To put the trust back.”

Hagen runs his taxi service nights and weekends, when he’s not working at the Red Cross organizing blood drives.

His fares are mostly tourists going to the airport and locals wanting to go into downtown Burlington or neighboring towns.

He keeps a cooler of drinks in the back, a welcome amenity on a hot summer day. And, he offers frequent-rider cards that he punches a hole in for every trip — every seventh ride is free.

He says you’d be surprised how trusting people are.

“No one’s slighted or undercut me,” he said.

Though, they have paid him in some unusual ways.

One woman paid him with the CD of a local artist. Another gave him a $10 grocery card.

“I’ve had only one person give me nothing,” Hagen said. “That was totally fine. I said, ‘Get me next time.’”

Still, Hagen said, his business is profitable.

He’s made about $800 or $900 and he’s only been in business for a month. The local Days Inn even uses him exclusively to transport guests to the airport.

And, he hasn’t done that much advertising: He scattered business cards around town and he has a Facebook page for his business.

He’s gotten such a great response — now he’s thinking about expanding and hiring a few extra drivers.

“I hope that I can help people with this,” Hagen said. “In the times that we’re in, I think this is what people might need right now.”

“I’m showing that if you trust them, they’re willing to be generous back and everybody wins,” Hagen said.

It’s always nice to see, especially during a recession, people putting good karma into the pot.

And you know what? It’s already come back around. The 1999 Dodge Durango Eric is using to haul trusting customers around qualifies for the Obama administration’s “Cash for Clunkers” program as it only gets about 12 mpg, according to

Take your $4,500 from Uncle Obama, Eric — consider it venture capital.

You’ve earned it!

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