If you need a ride to a bus stop, a lift to McArthur Airport or find yourself lingering a bit too long into the night atthis summer, you really might want to get to know Cindy Bergmeyer.
Bergmeyer, a 48-year-old Greenport native, is a self-made cab driver at Cindy's Cab Company, the Greenport-based business she started last July after a stint dispatching for Island Cab Company (now Hometown Taxi) in Southold.
She owns and maintains three minivans she bought from in Southold and has set rates for certain routes: Orient Point to Greenport is $25, Greenport to Riverhead is $50, Cutchogue to Jamesport is $50. She picks up only on the North Fork (very rarely will she pick up in Riverhead), and for $2 per mile, she will take you wherever you want to go — Islip, Stony Brook, Manhattan, Chicago.
The farthest she’s gone so far is Greenport to Manhattan.
“A young man at Claudio’s Clam Bar didn’t want to take the Jitney, the train — he wanted car service all the way back to Manhattan and that’s what he got,” she said.
During the summer, Cindy’s Cab Company transports many who just finished up a night at the bar — but Bergmeyer said she’ll let the cops take home those who are too drunk for even a cab ride.
“I don’t want them throwing up in here,” she said. “That happened once and it took forever to clean up.”
Bergmeyer started off in the working world as a paramedic, studying at Akron University, working for Lifestar ambulance company for 16 years in Ohio then ended her career for a different ambulance company.
She said she came back to Greenport in December of 2009 to be closer to her kids and extended family. She had also been a dispatcher for the ambulance companies — something that helped her chose her new career after she moved back to the North Fork.
“I know what’s involved in dispatching,” she said. “I came here to do the same thing.”
Before dispatching, Bergmeyer had a stint working as a waitress at the in Southold when she first moved back to town — and when the Country Corner Cafe was actually located in the corner of the same building that houses Southold IGA on Route 25. But that career was short-lived.
“That was hard work, and at my age it was just too much,” she said. “It hurt so bad when I came home, my feet, everything. It’s because I’d hadn’t done it since I was 14."
She said she opened up the local paper and got a job as a dispatcher at Island Cab Company in Southold in June of last year, but after a while she said she didn’t want to work for someone operating a commercial cab service without livery insurance — the insurance that allows you to legally carry passengers for a fee. Now, Bryan DaParma, the owner of Hometown Taxi who bought Island Cab said that he is operating a fleet of 60 vehicles on the North and South Fork fully insured — they way he has always done business.
“For me it’s $589 per month,” said Bergmeyer. “You multiply that by how many cars you have — it’s a big expense.
Bergmeyer has four full-time drivers who work an average of 10 hours per day, six days per week in the summer months. Cindy's Cab Company transports a lot of people in the workforce, such as home health care workers from New York City and up the island, who commute from the Hampton Jitney to their destination and back. Either way, it's a 50/50 book — if a fare is $10, her driver gets $5 and she gets $5.
“It’s a very good business in the summertime,” she said. “But I wish people would tip more. Out here, they tip their waitress, their bartender — but they don’t tip us.”
Bergmeyer said she prides herself on her clean and — more importantly — legal business, getting people where they need to go safely. Since the cabs are not metered, she keeps her rates posted in plain view in the interior of the van, and, if she raises rates like she did recently to compensate for gas costs, she’ll post a notice that she is doing so a month in advance.
“You’ve got to give people service worth paying for,” she said. “You’ve got to look decent, and the cars need to be maintained.”
And despite the 24-hour nature and a few rough passengers from the bar scene, Bergmeyer said she loves the freedom of driving that a desk-bound job can’t provide. So does her 79-year-old mother, Carol, who just started helping out.
“She works three different jobs, just got her chauffer’s license and loves this one,” she said.
Cindy's Cab Company is located at 105 Third Street near the to Shelter Island in Greenport (across from the ). Call 631-876-5121 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you need a lift.