Uber, Lift’s passenger numbers drop 15% in NYC, taxi fares rise

The number of Uber and Lift rides in New York City has fallen by 15 percent over the past few months – while yellow cabs picked up 5 percent more awards, reversing a long-standing trend.

New Yorkers took an average of 498,641 Uber / Lift daily trips in June, but in September that number dropped to 432,581, according to data from the Taxi & Limousine Commission.

Meanwhile, yellow taxi rides rose from 94,130 a day in June to 98,724 over the same months.

New Yorkers once took about half a million taxi rides a day – until 2014, when Uber and Lyft started eating loose on taxi rides.

Uber and Lyft executives have admitted that riders face higher prices and longer waiting times than they are used to – at least in part due to a lack of drivers.

Yellow taxis, on the other hand, are not subject to mercurial “surge pricing.”

A general picture of a NYC yellow taxi and a NYC green taxi in New York, NY on June 22, 2019.
Yellow taxis have seen a slight increase in passenger numbers since last summer.
Christopher Sadowski
A traveler is waiting for their Uber to arrive.
Uber’s carpooling service has been dominant in New York City since 2014.
CAROLINE BREHMAN / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock

In New York, “demand continues to exceed supply, and prices and waiting times remain above our comfort levels,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in the company’s recent earnings call.

Lifting is also facing a shortage of drivers, CFO Brian Roberts said in his latest earnings call – in part because of federal pandemic unemployment benefits.

A general picture of a woman haunting a taxi in New York, NY on September 28, 2018.
Uber and Lyft executives claim that yellow taxis have nothing to do with lack of drivers or high prices.
Christopher Sadowski

“To date, riders have been relatively patient with less than ideal prices and service levels as they face the entire industry,” he told Wall Street analysts.

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