Uber agreed a mega deal to list all New York City taxis on its app this morning, helping address the shortage of drivers in the city and buffering taxi usage.
The agreement was announced by Creative Mobile Technologies, which makes apps for the city’s yellow cabs, and Curb, a ride-hailing app for licensed taxi and for-hire rides in North America.
Confirming the news with City A.M. this afternoon, Uber shared a statement from its SVP, Mobility and Business Operations Andrew Macdonald.
“Uber has a long history of partnering with the taxi industry to provide drivers with more ways to earn and riders with another transportation option. Our partnerships with taxis look different around the world, and we’re excited to team up with taxi software companies CMT and Curb, which will benefit taxi drivers and all New Yorkers”, he said.
It is understood that passengers will pay roughly the same fare for rides as for Uber X rides.
To many, this partnership is a win-win: taxi drivers will get more access to demand, cities will get less empty miles driven, and riders will have access to more ride options.
However, like London, the relationship with the Big Apple and Uber has not been easy. The NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission capped the number of Uber and Lyft vehicles in 2018 following rising congestion and concerns about drivers’ wages.
The more traditional taxi driver has also felt the sting of Uber cutting into its share of passengers, especially as the pandemic battered tourism and city footfall.
Speaking to City A.M., James Farrar, the General Secretary of App Drivers & Couriers Union in the UK, said: “In general, unregulated incursion of apps into the regulated fares market is fraught with problems. Publicly set tariffs in New York and London are designed to protect the consumer and to ensure the driver is paid a living wage. When apps take over the distribution it’s a bit like a cuckoo entering the nest.”
In his view, the strategy is to allow the big ride-hailing firs like Uber take a bigger cut of the fare and depress fares to expand the market and their share.
It’s not just New York either. The ride-hailing giant have been nurturing partnerships with the taxi industry and see it as a key path to unlock new markets.
Last year, Uber doubled down on its commitment to the taxi industry in Hong Kong acquiring HK Taxi, the city’s leading taxi e-hailing app. Meanwhile it is forging partnerships with taxi firms in the likes of Turkey, Austria and Spain.
Shares are up nearly three per cent on the Nasdaq in early morning trading.