Uber customers may soon be able to hail a New York City cab through the app, thanks to a partnership between the ride-share company and two taxi-hailing platforms.
As part of the deal, Uber will work with companies Curb and Creative Mobile Technologies to list all New York City taxis on its app, the Wall Street Journal reported today (March 24). The partnership comes as Uber is facing a driver shortage that has caused the price of an average ride to rise. Some New York City taxi drivers, too, are struggling to earn a living due to outstanding debt and competition from ride-hailing apps like Uber.
While Uber has already partnered with taxi services abroad, this is the first such citywide partnership in the US. Earlier this year, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the company has plans to roll out more taxi partnerships: “I will tell you we wanna get every single taxi in the world onto our platform by 2025,” he told CNBC in February.
Uber’s rocky history with taxi companies
While Uber has been vocal about working to integrate itself with public transit systems, the company has been a disruptive force for taxi industries across the world. A 2016 paper (pdf) published in the American Economic Review found Uber drivers tend to get more work than taxi drivers. In Los Angeles, for example, the researchers found taxi drivers have a passenger in the car for less than half of the miles they drive, whereas UberX drivers have a passenger in the car for about two thirds (64%) of their miles.
Competition from ride-share companies has prompted taxi driver protests in countries including France, England, and Greece, even as Uber has partnered with taxi services in places like Singapore and Berlin.
Though Uber has historically had a tense relationship with New York City’s taxi industry, the pairing may make sense for both sides right now. Uber is facing a driver shortage that is worsening due to climbing gas prices, while New York City cab drivers have racked up millions of dollars in debt trying to pay for taxi medallions that allow them to work in the city, and lost customers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Uber’s director of business development Guy Peterson said the new partnership represented a “real win” for drivers, as they should more easily be able to find fares during off-peak times, and pick up drivers in the outer boroughs headed for Manhattan. But the New York City Taxi Workers Alliance disagrees. “The fare structure that is not enough for Uber drivers is also not going to be enough for yellow cab drivers who have higher expenses such as the medallion payment and higher car costs,” the union said in a statement. It estimates New York City cab drivers would earn 15% less on average from Uber compared to a meter fare.
When the partnership launches later this spring, Uber said both customers and taxi drivers will see the price of the ride before accepting it.