Operations

SuperShuttle Expanding Its Transportation Holdings

LCT Staff
Posted on July 18, 2007

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City taxi mogul Bill George Jr. has sold Yellow Cab Co. and the rest of his public transit operation, again. George announced that Arizona-based SuperShuttle International Inc., with operations at 23 U.S. airports, acquired his Kansas City Transportation Group for an undisclosed sum.

The sale includes 300-plus cabs and city taxi permits, mostly under the Yellow brand, plus more than 100 other vehicles that operate as KCI Shuttle, Carey Limousine, and a van service for disabled passengers.

The deal marks the second time George has sold the transportation business founded by his father in the 1970s when he bought the American Cab Co. In 1984, the elder Bill George bought more than 500 Yellow and other cabs out of bankruptcy court.

SuperShuttle tried to buy George's Kansas City assets in 1997. "We were interested back then but couldn't quite make it work," president and chief executive Brian Wier said. This week's acquisition advances the company's expansion plan. "Our goal is to be in 70 airports around the country," Wier said.

SuperShuttle was acquired last fall by a subsidiary of Paris-based Veolia Transportation, which operates more than 30,000 buses and trains in 27 nations, transporting 2.7 billion passengers last year. It is a subsidiary of Veolia Environment. The $32 billion-a-year French group is engaged in water, waste, energy, and transportation management worldwide, and is publicly traded in European markets and on the New York Stock Exchange.

SuperShuttle is a U.S. subsidiary of Veolia Transport on Demand, where Wier also is president and chief operating officer. The group moved 15 million passengers last year on a fleet that now includes 1,200 shuttle vehicles, 1,500 cabs, plus rail in Boston and buses in Las Vegas.

George, a co-owner of the recently opened Seven restaurant downtown, will stay on as chief executive of the Kansas City subsidiary. He said there would be no layoffs or jarring changes for employees or the more than 200 contract drivers.

"Everything stays the same," George said.

The merger, he said, offers "a great opportunity to take advantage of the next generation of technology," including high-tech dispatch and Internet reservation systems, which his small company alone could not afford to develop.

Wier agreed. "Veolia brings a wealth of benefits, particularly capital and unique technology," he said. "No one really is providing the service we provide on the national level right now."

In some of its markets, for instance, Veolia passengers can receive text messages if their bus is running late. Marketing literature boasts of Veolia's flexibility to provide short-term bus routes to handle peak-hour local and tourism traffic. Wier said the company's airport shuttles currently run at about 60% residential door-to-door service while taking around 30% of their reservations online.

Source: Kansas City Star

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