Lyft didn’t like the dog. Now, he and his owner are running their own operation

Posted on:

< < Back to

ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Passengers who catch a lift from Athens taxi driver John Diles need to understand one thing: His business partner and sidekick, Albert, is always going to be along for the ride. 

“I get to share him, and I get to see how much joy he brings,” Diles said. “If you don’t like the dog, you don’t need to ride in Albert’s Taxi; we don’t need you around.” 

Yes, Albert is a dog — a collie to be more precise, with thick flowing fur, a long nose and a gentle temperament. 

Albert’s Taxi started after Diles was kicked off Lyft for having Albert with him in the car. A disgruntled customer filed a complaint and Lyft deplatformed Diles. Out of a job and not knowing what to do, he started a taxi service and named it after Albert.

Albert, a collie, sits in the back seat of a taxi operated by his owner, John Diles.
Albert, a collie, sits in the back seat of a taxi operated by his owner, John Diles. [Betty Kankam-Boadu | WOUB]
Two years later, the duo is still spreading joy to customers who want to hang out with Albert while Diles takes them to their destinations. 

Diles moved back to Athens after he lost his job in the cruise industry. He worked in the Caribbean, providing hearing evaluation services for cruise ship crew members. Like most industries, the cruise sector also took a hit from the pandemic, and Diles had to come back home. To cope with the stress of the pandemic, he decided to get a dog. 

“I flew out to Little Rock, Arkansas, went up into the Ozark Mountains in a rental car, picked him up, and he’s been my best friend ever since.” 

Diles still remembers what it was like the first few weeks he got Albert.   

“He was a knucklehead. He ruined every pair of shoes that I had. And he had razor-sharp teeth. My arms were all scratched up all the time,” he said. 

It costs $10 to ride with Albert in and around Athens. Diles said more than 90% of his customers are with people excited to see the dog.  

He looks back now and is thankful Lyft fired him. He wants other people who live in smaller towns to start their own taxi business because “it works.” 

And it allows Diles to spend his days with his best friend.

“I don’t know what I would do without him,” he said. “I’m 71, and he is 3, so I think we may go out at about the same time. I hate to think about it.”