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With Uber and Lyft Prices Rising, Passengers Return to Original Carpool Service: Taxis

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As prices for cab rides have become more expensive during the coronavirus pandemic, some of the country’s largest metropolitan areas are seeing customers returning to taxis.

The volume of taxi rides has increased in recent months in San Francisco, New York and Chicago, coinciding not only with a pandemic recovery, but also with complaints about rising prices for Uber Technologies Inc. UBER rides,
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and Lyft Inc. LYFT,
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“Rising prices from Uber and Lyft have brought a lot of people back to taxis,” said Hansu Kim, president of Flywheel, the ride booking app he says is used by the majority of taxi companies. in San Francisco. He said that since the start of the summer, Flywheel has seen a 15-20% increase in downloads of its app.

The volume of taxi rides throughout the city more than doubled, increasing 106%, from January to early October, according to data from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. In New York City, yellow cab trips per month increased 116%, from about 1.36 million in January to nearly 3 million in September, according to data from the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

While the volume of cab rides has grown steadily over this period, TLC data shows a downward trend for trips to New York City in transport vehicles like Uber and Lyft: the volume of trips has increased from 15 million in July to 12.7 million at the end of September.

Data from Chicago also shows a similar trend, with ride-sharing giants showing a drop in the number of trips per day from July to August, unlike taxis. It does appear, however, that Uber and Lyft’s volume increased again in October.

Chris Sweis, general manager of Yellow Cab in San Francisco, said the volume of trips at his company was on the rise. He said that “customers come to us after opening the Uber and Lyft apps, say they think the prices are very high.”

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Uber and Lyft have acknowledged that their prices have increased amid growing demand for errands and difficulties recruiting drivers. Research firm YipitData, which has access to email receipts from more than one million Uber and Lyft users in the United States, reported that shopping prices increased earlier this year as prices increased. COVID-19 vaccinations were being rolled out, the weather had warmed up and people were starting to leave. to move back.

In mid-March, YipitData recorded the biggest increase in carpool prices in five years, said Peter Martin, research analyst for the company.

“Prices have moderated a bit from the April-July highs,” Martin said. “But prices are still quite high compared to before the supply shock in March.”

Per-trip charges for Uber and Lyft in New York City were up 19% year-over-year in October and 29% more than in October 2019, according to YipitData. For Chicago, these figures are 38% and 43% respectively, while in San Francisco they were 28% and 27% respectively.

According to data Sweis shared with MarketWatch, the volume of cab rides has not recovered from pre-pandemic times, but the company’s drivers have seen their weekly earnings increase by 50% to from the third week of September 2020 compared to the same time this year due to higher demand – and also because not all drivers have returned to driving taxis.

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The taxi industry, which has been decimated by the rise of Uber and Lyft over the past decade, lags far behind the transit giants. But as more and more passengers find they can call and pay for taxis by app, some taxi drivers are feeling somewhat optimistic.

“Hopefully we can convert people permanently, or at least get them to consider taxis as a transportation alternative,” said Barry Taranto, who has worked for National Cab and has been driving a cab in San Francisco for about 21 years.

Taranto said some passengers have complained about prices for public transportation, especially for trips from San Francisco International Airport to downtown, which he says can cost anywhere from $ 70 to $ 100. In a cab, he says the trip costs around $ 45 to $ 50.

According to Jason Gross – vice president of mobile at Curb Mobility, who says it’s the # 1 taxi app in the US – the number of taxi drivers on the platform in Chicago has more than doubled, to reach 1,800, between June and October. . Gross also said downloads of Curb’s rideshare app increased 280% in the past six months compared to the same period last year, and are up 175% from the same period. in 2019.

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While not all cab drivers are back on the road either, Flywheel’s Kim said the difference is that taxis don’t have top-ups like Uber and Lyft. Yellow Cab CEO Sweis echoed this.

“Our prices are regulated,” he said. “Our meter rates are set by the city and this serves as a maximum.”

In addition to the lower prices for taxi rides right now, Taranto, the taxi driver, said he hopes more people will realize that taxi drivers “really know where they are going.” Many people who have been using rideshare apps for some time are baffled that their taxi driver doesn’t need to use GPS to get around town.


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