Uber is looking at dispatching New York’s yellow cabs from its app amid a driver shortage

Taxi cabs drive through streets of Manhattan, NYC
  • Uber is entertaining the idea of dispatching yellow cabs, per a city lobbying disclosure.
  • New York City app users could potentially see taxi cabs as another option alongside “UberX.”
  • It comes at a time when driver shortages plague the US economy amid an ongoing labor crisis.

Uber is looking into the possibility of dispatching New York City’s famous yellow cabs from its app, in addition to its usual private hire options.

A September city lobbying disclosure lists Uber executive Josh Gold as having a discussion with Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) chief Aloysee Heredia Jarmoszuk on “the potential for a yellow taxi dispatch.” There are no further details given.

Per The New York Post, Uber app users could potentially see yellow cabs as another option alongside “UberX,” facilitated through the TLC’s “E-Hail” program.

“As a regulatory agency, the TLC meets frequently with all its Licensees to discuss ideas, individually and including during our monthly Taxi Working Group convening,” a TLC spokesperson told The Post.

Uber and TLC did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Whether New York’s cab drivers feel any appetite to pair up with Uber remains to be seen, given they felt the app decimated their business in its first few years of operation.

It also comes at a time when ride-hailing apps struggle with a depleting labor pool fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think they want to replace their volume,” New York Taxi Workers Alliance leader Bhairavi Desai told The Post. “Especially in a moment when a lot of the drivers are not going back.”

Industries in all corners of the US economy, from construction to hospitality, have been hit hard by a crippling labor shortage. Insider had conversations with 22 current and former Uber and Lyft drivers across the US who revealed the reasons for not wanting to return to the apps.

Some drivers said they’re simply waiting for more of the public to get vaccinated while others said they’re holding out for better pay.

But as cities get moving again, demand for cabs is growing. This, combined with the shortage, has led to price hikes.

In April, Uber spent $US250 ($AU338) million on “boosted incentives and guarantees” to persuade drivers to get back on the road, Insider reported. In its third-quarter financial report released this week, Uber reported a $US2.4 ($AU3) billion loss, mainly thanks to its investment in Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi. However, its earnings were otherwise fairly positive, with the firm reporting a 72% jump in revenue to $US4.8 ($AU6) billion.

“Our early and decisive investments in driver growth are still paying dividends, with drivers steadily returning to the platform, leading to further improvement in the consumer experience,” said CEO Dara Khosrowshahi at the time.”

It is not yet known whether Uber would get a cut of taxi cab rides it dispatches, but according to Desai, the company’s usual 25% commission would not work given the costs that come with operating a traditional taxi.