Taxi! Uber to list New York City cabs on its app

Tensions between Uber and taxi services had begun to thaw as Uber expanded into the very lucrative food-delivery business.

A man enters a New York City taxi cab as it drives through Times Square in New York
The partnership will boost the number of rides available, and gives cab drivers in New York City in the US access to a massive pool of commuters with an Uber app on their phones [File: Lucas Jackson/Reuters]

Uber, hit by driver shortages and a surge in food delivery requests during the coronavirus pandemic, will list New York City taxi cabs on its app, a partnership that until recently would have been unthinkable, with both camps fighting ferociously for the same customers.

After a period in which waits for an Uber ride grew longer, the partnership will boost the number of rides available, and it gives NYC cab drivers access to a massive pool of commuters with an Uber app on their phones.

There had been hints that tensions between Uber and taxi services had begun to thaw as Uber expanded aggressively into the very lucrative food delivery business and needed a growing supply of delivery drivers.

During the pandemic, Uber’s food deliveries outpaced rides given to humans as millions sheltered at home. Gross bookings for delivery services at Uber reached $13.4bn in the final quarter of 2021. That’s compared with $11.3bn and gross bookings for Uber rides.

The agreement announced Thursday comes amid the backdrop of more cities moving to regulate the explosive growth of Uber and other app-based ride services, including NYC, which placed a temporary cap on new licences for ride-hailing services in 2018.

NYC is the largest United States market for Uber, which is based in San Francisco, California in the US.

The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, a group that represents taxi drivers and has been critical of Uber and other ride-hailing apps, said it would push for negotiations.

“After its business model has shown the failures to protect drivers from ridership downturns and rising gas prices, Uber is returning to its roots: yellow cabs,” said Bhairavi Desai, the executive director of the NYTWA, in a prepared statement Thursday.

Calls to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission were not immediately returned early Thursday.

Uber Technologies Inc has been incorporating taxi drivers around the world into its system for the past several years. In Spain, the company has integrated taxis in Madrid, Málaga, Valencia and Barcelona. It’s teamed up in Colombia with TaxExpress, which has more than 2,300 active drivers. Half of all Uber taxi trips in Latin America come from the TaxExpress partnership in Colombia. Uber also has relationships with taxi software and fleet operators in Austria, Germany, Turkey, South Korea and Hong Kong.

In New York City, Uber is teaming with tech platforms Creative Mobile Technologies and Curb to eventually have all NYC taxi cabs available on its app. Shares of Uber rose more than 3 percent Thursday.

“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,” said Andrew Macdonald, the senior vice president of Mobility and Business Operations at Uber, in a prepared statement.

Creative Mobile Technologies said Thursday that taxi drivers on its platform, which includes the taxi app Arro, will gain access to Uber’s customer base, giving them the opportunity for a higher volume of trips and expanded revenue.

Creative Mobile said a beta version for taxis will be rolled out this spring and reach the general public this summer.

Anyone with the Uber app will have access to thousands of yellow taxis that operate on the CMT/Arro platform. Taxi drivers will see Uber-originated fares on their driver monitors, which they already use to service e-hails from the Arro taxi app.

Curb, which offers a ride-hailing app for licenced taxis and for-hire rides in North America, said that its partnership with Uber will give more transportation options for riders and more trips for drivers. While their agreement will start in New York City, Curb said that the partnership will expand to its nationwide network over the coming months.

Drivers on the Curb platform will be able to receive and accept Uber trip offers through their existing in-vehicle systems, in addition to Curb app demand and traditional street hails.

“We’ve found great success in creating incremental trip demand and revenue for drivers by integrating with several aggregators over the past two years, and this partnership builds on that success by delivering even greater opportunities for cab drivers to have access to an ever-widening pool of riders,” said Curb CEO Amos Tamam.

Source: AP