New Yorkers can’t get taxis amid shortage, Uber price hikes

It might be an extended, brutal summer time for New Yorkers who want a journey.

Emily Wood, a 39-year-old advert govt within the West Village, was late for a physician go to late final month and couldn’t discover a taxi on Sixth Avenue at West eleventh Street. So she opened the Uber app and punched in a five-minute journey to West twenty fifth Street.

Uber needed an eye-popping $39 — so Wood hoofed the 14 blocks in her operating sneakers. When the physician advised Wood her blood stress was excessive, she needed to clarify.

“The prices have just been astronomical,” Wood stated. “I’m going to plan ahead and I’m going to allow more time to take the subway and walk.”

Manhattan advert govt Emily Wood says she just lately walked 14 blocks moderately than pay Uber a $39 fare.

The downside might get worse earlier than it will get higher. As workplaces reopen and tourists begin to trickle in this summer time, business specialists say passengers will face a dire scarcity of taxicabs and surging prices for Uber and Lyft rides. That’s as a result of drivers who largely stopped working in the course of the pandemic stay reluctant to return again, as a substitute taking different jobs or gathering unemployment.

“The summer could be really crazy,” Bruce Schaller, a transportation knowledgeable and former metropolis transit official, advised the Post.

According to the Taxi and Limousine Commission, there have been 4,900 yellow cabs cruising the town in April. While that’s up barely from 4,700 in March — it’s lower than half the 11,400 cabs that had been out there in February 2020, earlier than lockdowns.

Indeed, one Queens taxi dispatcher who requested to not be named stated that about 50 p.c of his firm’s drivers are presently on the highway, up from 15 p.c or 20 p.c when the pandemic first hit. He hopes to get again to full capability by 12 months’s finish, however obstacles stay — notably the $300-a-week federal sweetener to jobless advantages in New York.

“Receiving unemployment has certainly diminished their desire to return,” the proprietor stated. “I think that when the city begins to open up there will be more drivers.”

In the meantime, fares on Uber and Lyft are skyrocketing.

A hand holding a smartphone with the Uber app
One NYC Uber driver advised The Post that he’s bringing in as a lot as $40 per hour.
SOPA Images/LightRocket by way of Getty Images

Mike Gunzelman, a 30-year-old TV and radio host , gripes that Uber’s costs are a “sham.” Two weeks in the past, the app charged him $16 to go 7 blocks down Second Avenue on the Upper East Side. He likewise complains that Ubers are recently taking longer to reach.

“I understand surge pricing, but it seems like surge pricing is 24 hours a day now, and that’s not how it was,” Gunzelman advised The Post. “Now that COVID is in the rear view mirror, it’s very frustrating.”

Uber is spending $250 million on momentary bonuses to get extra drivers on the highway, spokesman Harry Hartfield stated, including that New York drivers are presently making about $38 per hour plus suggestions.

A sign post with Lyft and Uber logos
Lyft and Uber acknowledge fares have elevated in price however are quiet about precisely how a lot of the extra quantity is being handed alongside to drivers.

Hartfield wouldn’t say how that compares to earlier charges, however Jonathan Vega, a 30-year-old Uber driver from Queens, advised The Post that he’s bringing in as a lot as $40 per hour, in contrast with $25 an hour earlier this 12 months. 

“From August until February, it was atrocious. There was no money,” Vega stated. “There’s more money to be made now because I think a lot of drivers are still — I’m not sure if they’re still hesitant or still collecting unemployment.” 

Hartfield declined to say what proportion of Uber’s surging costs are being handed on to drivers, saying, “It’s somewhat of a complicated algorithm.” A spokesperson for Lyft stated the corporate has additionally seen “big increases” in demand however wouldn’t present particulars on pricing or driver pay. 

A taxi in front of Radio City Music Hall
Some speculate that the phasing-out of the additional $300 unemployment profit will lure cabbies again to work.
Getty Images

“If I’m making $11 more per ride, I can only imagine how much more the rider is paying,” stated Vega. 

While the subsequent three months promise to be expensive for passengers, the surges will probably come crashing to a halt when the federal unemployment advantages expire in September, predicts Matthew Daus, a former chairman of the Taxi and Limousine Commission. That, mixed with the town’s reopening, he stated, might spark a pointy reversal by which driver provide outstrips demand — as was the case earlier than the pandemic.

“We’re going to have ‘taximageddon’ in the fall,” Daus warned. “I fear that there’s going to be a ton of vehicles in the streets searching for work and there’s not going to be enough work until the holidays at least.”

In the meantime, driving a taxi within the metropolis might be surreal of late, with queues at usually cab-mobbed airports nearly empty, says Augustine Tang, a 36-year-old cabbie from Brooklyn. He by no means used to get calls asking him to return decide up passengers at JFK Airport, however now fields such requests three or 4 instances every week.

Closeup of window with Uber and Lyft driver decals
Uber and Lyft drivers will quickly face extra critical competitors from taxis.
Education Images/Universal Image

“There’s a shortage in the airports and a shortage in the city,” he stated.

Ford govt Sunny Madra wrote in a latest Twitter thread that he spent 20 minutes attempting to hail a yellow cab at JFK earlier than calling an Uber. His journey to Midtown Manhattan value $249 — barely lower than his $262 flight from California to New York. 

Exorbitant costs are driving some prospects away from ride-sharing apps regardless of the previous 12 months’s surge in crime on the subway, together with a bloody hammer attack on the two practice final month.

“If it comes to it, is it worth spending $35 for Uber or worth spending $3 for the subway with the safety issues?” stated Gunzelman, the radio host. “I’d rather take my chances on the subway than try to get an Uber.” 

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