“I used them for many years to get to the airport five or six times a year,” says a retired local educator. “They were totally dependable.”

But then they weren’t. The educator said she had reserved a ride back to town from Metro Airport three weeks in advance only to find no ride waiting when her plane landed. “I had no idea the service had stopped,” she says. She was rescued by Michigan Flyer VP Ody Norkin, who found her a seat on the AirRide bus–and arranged for another taxi company to take her home from the Blake Transit Center.

Dave Reid, general manager of Select Ride and its sister company Yellow Car, explains what happened by email.

“We were unprofitable, couldn’t pay our bills, didn’t have enough good help, didn’t have enough vehicles to operate. We lost most of our vehicles the past summer due to repos when we could not make the payments on them.”

They didn’t make the payments because “2015 business was much less than half of 2014 … probably closer to a third. Uber killed us by taking away most of the night business.”

Uber wasn’t the only culprit. When the AAATA discovered last spring that Select Ride wasn’t paying drivers the city’s living wage, as required by its $2 million annual A-Ride contract, the authority found another provider for its service for passengers with disabilities. That alone killed close to half of Select Ride’s business.

“Losing the AAATA contract is the primary reason that we failed,” Reid says. “AAATA slid the living wage requirement in after the pricing had already been established for the contract.” He says he “would have gladly paid” a living wage to A-Ride employees “if we had received the funding to do so.”

Reid admits he’s never paid the drivers the $70,000 the AAATA estimated he owes them. He says Select Ride’s building on Commerce Dr. is up for sale, and the remaining cars “will be taken over by Comerica Bank and the Small Business Administration because they have liens on them.” And he himself is “looking for a job.”

Phone calls to Select Ride are now being forwarded to Green Cab. “They felt they could recommend us over the competition,” emails president Tim Tobias. “We’re adding capacity right now because there’s been a dramatic spike in demand. We’re scrambling to hire drivers.”

Blue Cab picked up the A-Ride business, and owner John Etter has expanded his fleet by buying Amazing Blue Taxi. “I bought the phone number and the goodwill and hired as many drivers as we could take on,” he says.

Etter agrees with Reid that ride-sharing apps have “destroyed the student market.” He adds: “There’s a lot we have to do to comply with the law, like have commercial insurance and do drug checks on our drivers. They don’t have to, and they don’t. There doesn’t seem to be any regulation that applies to Uber.”

But Etter believes cab companies will survive the online disruption: “There’ll always be a market for regulated services: large customers like the U-M and the schools.”