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New York City Sees Uber Vehicle Numbers Soar Above Yellow Taxis

New York City Sees Uber Vehicle Numbers Soar Above Yellow Taxis 2

Black is the new yellow.

Uber has thrown down the gauntlet in the Big Apple taxi wars — overtaking the yellow-cab industry in total cars on the streets in less than four years of operation in New York, according to new TLC data.

The company has 14,088 black and luxury cars affiliated with it operating in the five boroughs, compared to 13,587 medallion cabs, according to the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

Uber has been active in the city only since May 2011, but its competitive rates and higher pay have quickly lured drivers and customers away from traditional taxi service.

“You can just turn on your phone and start working at any time,” said Uber driver Joel Abreu, 24, who lives in the Bronx.

He said he makes about $85,000 a year after expenses driving a luxury SUV for the company — more than double the salaries of an average yellow-cab driver.

Abreu said the service has become too popular, and he wishes there were less competition among the hacks.

“I feel like there are too many drivers now,” he said.

Yellow cabs still make 10 times more trips than Uber cars in the city.

Some veteran cabbies said they are perfectly happy running a meter, and have no plans to switch.
“The money isn’t bad, and the person I drive for is a friend of mine so I’m helping him out as well,” said Shammi Sharma, 61, of New Jersey.

He said he makes $35,000 a year, or about $10 an hour, in his Ford Escape cab after expenses.

He said that there is always the risk that the passenger will flee and not give him cash or swipe their credit card — which is impossible with Uber’s guaranteed payment system.

“Sometimes people just won’t pay and will get out,” he said. “When that happens, I let them go. It’s just part of the job.”

Critics of the app, like the Committee for Taxi Safety, have said Uber is siphoning off revenue from the city because it doesn’t give tax revenue through medallion sales and its allure to drivers has discouraged medallion auctions.

TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi recently said in public testimony that she was concerned that Uber, unlike yellow cabs, does not pay surcharges that fund the MTA and make taxis more handicapped-accessible.

She also said she was concerned that they were adding to the city’s congestion, since most Uber trips take place in Manhattan.



By Melkorka Licea, Elizabeth Ruby and Rebecca Harshbarger

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