‘Flying Taxi’ startup aims to cut down Bay Area commuter hours


PALO ALTO (KRON) — Battling traffic when you’re trying to go somewhere, is every day in the Bay Area, especially during rush hour.

One “flying taxi” startup is trying to cut down hours of commuting into minutes.

Traffic is getting so bad, that’s why some people are trying to get around it at all costs, literally.

Around the same time KRON4’s Gayle Ong took this flight, drivers on the ground snarled in traffic, are going the same distance, journeying more than an hour.

It takes just 10 minutes or so to get from Palo Alto to Oakland and vice versa.

The cost? $195 each way.

Blade, a startup based in New York saw the commuting nightmare as a business opportunity.

“We have a lot of people who use it one to two times per week and it’s generally those folks who want that extra time at home with their family,” said Will Heyburn, with Blade. 

With traffic at a standstill in many parts of the bay area, the “flying taxi” company started daily helicopter flights across the region in March.

“During rush hour you have a drive that can take between one and a half and two hours, given the constraints on the bridges.  We can replace that with a 7 minute helicopter flight that costs almost the same as an Uber,” Heyburn said.

During the morning rush hour, an Uber Black between Oakland and Palo Alto could cost you $189. So the helicopter service is only $6 more.

From the air we saw traffic starting to build up.

On the ground, we asked people if they would pay almost $200 to avoid gridlock.

“No. I know the traffic is bad here but that’s too much money,” one commuter said.

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