Yellow Cabs vs. Uber: Taxi’s Struggle to Control NYC’s Transportation Market

Explore how Uber has completely changed the already fast paced Taxi market of New York City, forcing it to adapt in order to compete.

Since going live in the app stores, 21st century ride system apps like Uber and Lyft, have begun to poach yellow cab’s customers by lowering their prices and increasing their fleets to rival the 13,000 taxis in New York City. The NYC taxicab industry’s growth since its start in the 1900s has established legislation and practices that conquer the transportation systems of other major American cities. The medallion system and other regulations by the Taxi and Limousine Commission help to control taxi’s overcrowding and ensure servicing to all parts of the city. Since being dumped into the laps of thousands of New Yorkers apps like Uber have threatened the industry and identity of the New York City taxi and cabbies themselves. Although these apps have changed the face of the industry they will not out grow it entirely; this emergence may lead to improvements for taxi regulation and potentially overtime the market may even out.

The regulations that control taxis in NYC don’t have the same control over Uber and that is one of the reasons they have been able to be so successful in and around NYC. The taxi and Limousine Commission have regulated to ensure that taxis don’t contribute to overcrowding in congested areas of the city and to ensure that the outer boroughs are being reached. Mayor de Blasio has recently promoted and investigation to see what part Uber and other car services like it plays in the congestion, this study may eventually lead to more regulation for these services. Uber offers a very different experience for drivers, with more flexible hours but less compensation or protection in some cases. What the New York City Commission and Mayor de Blasio are ultimately trying to achieve by reworking regulation is a fair market where these icon yellow taxis that NYC is famous for can coexist with Uber and services like it.

I explored several sources that discussed Uber’s possibly domination of the NYC transportation system, the upcoming legislation change, the decline of taxis’ popularity and the hope that they can both survive. When I first started research I looked into the medallion system and how it has been affected by Uber; the New York Times published a story in 2014 that detailed the decline in value that these medallions have seen and the possibly catastrophic effects on the industry. The Wall Street Journal published an article outlining the New York City Council’s move to bypass Mayor de Blasio’s investigation into traffic and congestion in order to move forward with legislation that may even out the market and hold Uber responsible for some of the complaints surrounding the issue. I also studied an article that examined the number against one another and claimed that taxis were still outperforming Uber by giving almost twice as many rides. The fortune article also shed light on some of the more unattractive qualities of being an Uber driver and around 5,000 NYC Uber drivers are suing the company.These articles accompanied with my other research led me to the conclusion that Uber will not over take the taxi as long as regulation creates a fair market.

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2. Barro, Josh. New York Taxi Medallion Prices Fall Again. N.p., 2016. Web. 15 Oct. 2016.
3. Dawsey, Josh. New York City Council Bypasses Mayor Bill De Blasio On Uber Policy. WSJ. N.p., 2016. Web. 31 Oct. 2016.
4. Enquist, Erik. Uber Fires Back At Taxi Industry’s Campaign. Crain’s New York Business. N.p., 2016. Web. 31 Oct. 2016.
5. Farber, Madeline. New York Taxis Are Still Dominating Uber. Fortune. N.p., 2016. Web. 31 Oct. 2016.
6. Kosoff, Maya. Here’s Proof That Uber Is Obliterating New York City’s Taxi Industry. Business Insider. N.p., 2016. Web. 31 Oct. 2016.
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Student Author: Annie McCall is a senior at University of Vermont , studying Public Communication
Faculty Advisor: Rob Williams, University of Vermont

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