New York

Yellow Taxis to Test Upfront Fares and Surge Pricing Amid Ongoing Clash With Ride-Hailing Apps

Currently, yellow cabs are required to charge passengers a metered fare

What to Know

  • Some yellow cabs will soon have surge pricing and upfront fares like Uber and Lyft if passengers hail the cabs via an app
  • Riders who hail cabs on the street will still have metered rides, the Taxi & Limousine Commission says
  • The TLC also says taxi-hailing apps Curb and Arro are soon coming to all yellow cabs; currently, half of cabs have Curb and half have Arro

The Taxi & Limousine Commission approved a resolution Thursday to create a pilot program in the coming weeks that will allow yellow taxi apps to implement surge pricing and to quote an upfront, set fare for passengers who request a ride through their smartphone.

The two-year pilot program, which should roll out in April or May, comes as the city's 13,000 metered taxis continue to compete against ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft, which typically give passengers a set fare before they step into the vehicle, allowing them to compare prices between companies.

Current TLC rules require passengers be charged the metered rate of fare for all trips in taxis.

As part of the pilot program, taxi companies will be able to implement "surge pricing," allowing them to charge more for the service during periods of high demand. They'll determine their own rates of fare and report them to the TLC.

The TLC says the program will not apply to street hails, which will remain metered and continue to follow the normal taxi rates of fare.

TLC Deputy General Counsel Ryan Wanttaja told NBC 4 that the commission wants to test if passengers who book taxi trips through an app prefer upfront pricing. He said it was not about competing with Uber and Lyft but about giving riders more options to choose from during periods of high demand.

Last year, Uber surpassed yellow taxis in number of rides; Uber totaled an average of 289,000 rides last July, while yellow taxis clocked about 277,000 trips, according to the New York Times.

In addition to the pilot program, Wanttaja said Curb and Arro – two of the more well-known taxi-hailing apps – will soon be available in all taxis. Currently, about half the taxis use Curb and the other half use Arro.

In separate taxi news, the TLC says it’s deciding whether or not to remove the screens in the back of taxis after riders complained that they were too loud. The screens could be automatically muted or removed altogether after an upcoming vote, the commission says.

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