Uber’s shift toward a mobility platform continues by adding NYC cabs to app

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Uber is continuing its move toward becoming a platform rather than an operator by adding New York’s famous yellow taxi fleet to its app.

The taxis were traditionally viewed as Uber’s key rival in New York, but the ride-hailing giant now sees them as a growth opportunity, in a move that mirrors Uber’s Local Cab service in the UK, which offers Uber jobs to private hire operators that use Autocab’s iGo platform.

Adding the NYC yellow cabs to its app could also help Uber overcome driver shortages in its biggest US market. The deal could add 13,600 cabs to Uber’s app if all of the city’s registered drivers sign up.

During a recent investor day in February, Uber outlined the US taxi sector as a major growth opportunity, calling it a highly fragmented $120 billion industry with 20 million active vehicles – more than five times larger than Uber’s own pre-pandemic fleet.

Uber said it planned to include every taxi on its Uber app by 2025 and last year added 122,000 new taxis to its platform. That represented 3% of its total driver base at a time when it was struggling to retain its usual gig worker drivers amid the pandemic.

“When we look at the next five years, we just don’t see a world in which taxis and Uber exist separately. There’s too much to gain for both sides,” said Andrew Macdonald, Uber’s senior vice president of mobility.

Uber also said 35% of users who use Uber for a taxi booking go on to use its other mobility products.

The deal will see Uber work with taxi software companies Creative Mobile Technologies and Curb, which said its goal was to expand the collaboration across the whole of the US.

Passengers will pay approximately the same fare for taxi journeys as they do for Uber X rides, but taxi drivers will be paid according to New York’s ride-hail wage standards, which on average are higher than the metered rates, Curb said.

New York has for years been a battleground between Uber and yellow cab drivers. They blame Uber for undercutting them and reducing standards, in a similar way that the London black cab trade has objected to Uber.

But with Uber increasing its presence in the taxi sector around the world – it integrates taxis to its app in cities in Spain, Germany, Austria, Turkey, South Korea, Hong Kong and Colombia –it could attempt to set up a similar arrangement with London cabbies. This could see London Uber users being offered a choice of Uber car or black cab on the Uber app.