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Uber considers dispatching yellow taxis in New York City

This might help Uber compensate for driver shortages.
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 16: Yellow cabs and Uber car drive through Times Square on November 16, 2020 in New York City. NYC bill is looking to put Uber and yellow Cabs on single app platform where riders order from the app any for-hire vehicle, including taxis and cars of Uber or Lyft. (Photo by Eduardo MunozAlvarez/VIEWpress)
Eduardo MunozAlvarez/VIEWpress
Jon Fingas
Jon Fingas|@jonfingas|November 7, 2021 12:10 PM

Uber might compensate for driver shortages by reviving an old feature. The New York Post reports Uber has lobbied the chief of New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission on the "potential" of dispatching the area's legendary yellow taxis. The details of the lobbying weren't revealed in the public disclosure, but the description suggested you would hail a taxi from the Uber app like you could in the company's earlier days.

We've asked Uber for comment, although it declined to speak to The Post. A TLC spokesperson shied away from discussing details, saying only that the Commission "meets frequently" with licensees to explore ideas and that it was focused on relief efforts for drivers struggling with taxi medallion debt.

Yellow cab hailing might seem an unusual choice for a company that has routinely clashed with the taxi industry and is frequently blamed for gutting NYC's cab demand. Uber would likely have to rethink its commissions to compensate taxi drivers who pay steep costs to operate in the city, and it could still face political opposition given its history.

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Even so, it's easy to see why Uber might consider offering NYC taxis. The revival would increase the chances of passengers scoring some kind of ride through the Uber app, even if there aren't enough ridesharing drivers to go around. That could keep New Yorkers using the Uber app and increase the chances they'll use the company's more familiar options.

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Uber considers dispatching yellow taxis in New York City