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Your Uber app is no longer dominated by a fleet of black Toyota Camrys — the platform has officially begun to offer New Yorkers yellow taxi cab rides as part of its services.

New York taxis in Times Square. Photo: David Becker/Unsplash

The move comes out of a deal reached between New York City Taxi, Limousine Commission apps Arro and Curb Mobility and the rideshare giant this March.It allows the city’s 14,000-plus taxis to list themselves through the app and will begin appearing on the platform over the coming months. Taxi rides booked through Uber will be priced at the same rates as UberX and feature a pre-calculated fare, while taxis hailed in-person will still function under the metered pricing system. According to Bloomberg, drivers will be able to see full-ride Uber pricing before accepting a trip. 

New York City taxi drivers have been increasingly challenged over the past several years, suffering a sharp decrease in business at the height of the pandemic as well as rising medallion costs, gas prices and facing the threat of congestion pricing — and of course, competition from Uber and Lyft. 

After the New York Taxi Workers Alliance union (NYTWA) spent months bargaining with the city (with some drivers even enacting a 15-day hunger strike), the Adams administration agreed last week to implement a taxi medallion loan relief program for drivers saddled with outsized debt. Many drivers owe as much as $500,000 on their medallion loans, the value of which has dropped sharply over the last several years. The deal restructures outstanding driver loans to a maximum principal balance of $200,000.

“Our taxi drivers are the lifeblood that keep New York City’s heart pumping. They were promised a path to a better life with these taxi medallions but quickly found themselves going down a pit of financial despair. The enhanced version of the Medallion Relief Program will deliver life-changing debt forgiveness to more than 3,000 drivers who deserve economic justice,” said Mayor Adams in a press release. “Our taxicab medallion owners and drivers have always kept New York City moving, and it is finally time we pay it forward with real debt relief for owners in need. We are likely putting tens of thousands of dollars back into the pockets of these owner-drivers and showing them what real relief looks like. I am proud that this administration was, once again, able to ‘Get Stuff Done’ for an industry that has given New Yorkers so much.”

NYTWA Executive Director Bhairavi Desai added their own statement on Twitter, writing: “We are finally at the starting line of a new life for thousands of drivers and our families. The city-backed guarantee is a ground-breaking program that will save and change lives. We are thankful to City Hall, the TLC, the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget, the Law Department and to Marblegate for burning the midnight oil to set up this historic program to address the crisis of debt across the industry. As we collectively work to end this crisis and hit re-start, we look forward to working with all lenders. I congratulate all of our union members who chose to organize and not despair, and won back their lives. Against the darkness of a crushing debt, their courage remained the light, and today, the triumph is fully theirs.” 

Riding a New York Taxi Cab with the meter running. Photo: Phil O’Brien

In the wake of the Uber merger, the union is focused on achieving taxi driver exemptions for congestion pricing as well as across-the-board raises. The NYTWA plans to hold a hearing this evening to discuss next negotiating steps with the city, adding: “We’ve been ringing the alarm on the need for immediate action as driver incomes have been devastated by inflation and slow growth post-pandemic.  71.2 percent of drivers report being close to not having enough groceries or not having enough money for groceries over the past 12 months. Proposals get us to immediate relief and are a leap forward from where we are and closer to where we want to land: $25/hour after expenses and just cause protection.  Our eyes are fixed for a job with full rights and dignity. No more debt and poverty. We rallied and organized. Our yellow-green-uber-lyft unity demanded a raise for all — and today, we’ve opened that path for all drivers.”

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