How Uber is killing cabs

Yellow taxi cabs in manhattan
Yellow taxi cabs in manhattan
Mikayel Bartikyan/Shutterstock

How Uber is killing cabs

As ride-hail service rises, yellow and green taxis are hitting the brakes.
May 17, 2018

Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft are crushing the yellow cab industry in New York City – and elected officials are once again starting to take notice.

New York City Councilman Rubén Díaz Sr. introduced a bill that aims to even the playing field by further regulating black car services, upping fees and making drivers commit to just one app-based service. Although past efforts to further regulate companies like Uber have failed – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio dropped his 2015 plan to cap the number of ride-hailing cars – after a series of suicides by taxi drivers drew attention to the issue, the mayor said he may try again. And Díaz is certainly on board. “We will do whatever is possible,” he said at an April 26 rally. “This has to end. The abuse of the driver has to end.”

The driver that Díaz means is the yellow cab driver, whose active numbers have been falling since de Blasio took office in 2014. Green cabs, which can only pick up passengers on the street outside of Manhattan’s central business district, grew after their August 2013 introduction during the waning days of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration. But their numbers have fallen to all-time lows, with many drivers switching to Uber instead.

As of October, there were some 61,000 cars working for Uber, though many drivers work for more than one service, like Lyft or Gett. So the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, which regulates car services in the city, tracks all for-hire vehicles – including green cabs – together, giving a fuller picture of the alternatives to yellow cabs.

As the new push for regulation heats up, here’s how the market has changed in de Blasio’s tenure.

cab-graph-1.jpg

A graph showing new york city taxi service vs ride hail services
Alt Text: 
A graph showing new york city taxi service vs ride hail services
Title Text: 
A graph showing new york city taxi service vs ride hail services
Caption: 
Yellow cab trips have dwindled, while other kinds of paid rides have increased. For-hire vehicles exclude yellow cabs but include black cars, livery and luxury services, and green cabs, all of which can be summoned using ride-hailing apps.
Description: 
Yellow cab trips have dwindled, while other kinds of paid rides have increased. For-hire vehicles exclude yellow cabs but include black cars, livery and luxury services, and green cabs, all of which can be summoned using ride-hailing apps.
Image Credit: 
Graph by Alex Law

cab-graph-2.jpg

A graph showing the rise of ride hail services in new york city
Alt Text: 
A graph showing the rise of ride hail services in new york city
Title Text: 
A graph showing the rise of ride hail services in new york city
Caption: 
Overall, the taxi and car service industry in the city has grown, with more registered vehicles and more drivers.
Description: 
A graph showing the rise of ride hail services in new york city. Overall, the taxi and car service industry in the city has grown, with more registered vehicles and more drivers.
Image Credit: 
Graph by Alex Law

cab-graph-3.jpg

A graph showing the decline of traditional cabs in new york city
Alt Text: 
A graph showing the decline of traditional cabs in new york city
Title Text: 
A graph showing the decline of traditional cabs in new york city
Caption: 
But as ride-hailing services become more popular, there are fewer yellow and green cabs looking for rides. Green cabs are part of the for-hire vehicle totals.
Description: 
A graph showing the decline of traditional cabs in new york city. But as ride-hailing services become more popular, there are fewer yellow and green cabs looking for rides. Green cabs are part of the for-hire vehicle totals.
Image Credit: 
Graph by Alex Law

Editor's note: This post has been updated to clarify that Uber is already regulated but that there is a push to further regulate ride-hailing services. 

Jeff Coltin
is a staff reporter at City & State. He covers New York City Hall.
20190419