New York Couple Hails Cab...For Trip to Arizona

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Two New Yorkers who are moving to Arizona to retire faced something of a dilemma.

Bob and Betty Matas do not drive, and they didn't want to fly because it would mean consigning their two cats, Cleopatra and Pretty Face, to the aircraft hold.

So they did what many residents of the Big Apple do when they need to get somewhere - they hailed a yellow cab.

The cab trip from the Forest Hills neighbourhood of Queens to Sedona, Arizona, will take around seven days and cost $3,000.

They met taxi driver Douglas Guldeniz a couple of weeks ago when they hailed his cab after a shopping trip and began talking about their upcoming move.

"He seemed like a very honest, sincere man, a family man and he spoke very nicely and he seemed to know his way all around town," said Bob Matas.

"We were at first kidding, you know, whether he wanted to go to Sedona, you know he went along with the gag for a while and then he said he was interested in it, in going and so we exchanged phone numbers."

Guldeniz will drive his canary yellow Ford SUV cab for ten hours a day for a flat fee of $3,000, plus expenses for fuel, meals and hotels. The SUV is a hybrid electric vehicle, meaning fuel costs should be lower.

The couple loaded cats and luggage in the back of the cab on Tuesday at the start of the 2,400 mile trip - and the cats were coping well.

"They're just happy as a lark," Betty Matas said.

Guldeniz is a new taxi driver by New York standards - he has only been a cabbie for two of the 12 years he has been in America after immigrating from Turkey.

"I just think a couple of seconds, you know how much I make on average in Manhattan. I go by like that and then I say yeah, $3,000, plus you know gas, hotel, you know round trip gas and hotel they pay. They say OK, you know, maybe almost $4,000 is fine. But this is still better than working Manhattan," he said.

The fare is significantly lower than the roughly $10,000 roundtrip price they would have paid using the meter, said the executive director of the Committee for Taxi Safety, a drivers' group.

Guldeniz plans to be back on the streets of Manhattan in eight days. He says he won't make many stops along the way back because "time is money."

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