New York

Uber Rides Surpass Those of Yellow Cabs in Popularity for the First Time in NYC

Uber rides have surpassed those of yellow taxis for the first time as the ride-hailing company continues its growth in the transit-starved boroughs outside Manhattan. 

Uber confirmed to NBC 4 New York a story first reported by the New York Times on Thursday, saying in a statement that Uber pickups have surged in the last few years, especially in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and on Staten Island.

“Now, half of all Uber trips begin outside of Manhattan, where we continue to see the fastest growth,” Uber said in the statement. Two years earlier, just a quarter of Uber rides started outside Manhattan.

The swell of outer-borough Uber rides has pushed the ride-hailing service into new territory: in July it surpassed yellow cabs in number of rides. Uber totaled an average of 289,000 rides this July, while yellow taxis clocked about 277,000 trips, according to the Times.

From hipster enclaves to working-class neighborhoods long underserved by the city's subway, Uber is finding new customers. In the outer boroughs, Uber made 167,194 total weekly pickups this August, compared to 56,721 a year before, the Times reported.

"Uber's mission is to provide reliable, affordable transportation to everyone, everywhere and we have worked hard to ensure that all New Yorkers can get a ride in minutes, particularly in neighborhoods underserved by mass transit and ignored by yellow cabs,” Uber said in its statement to NBC 4.

In the Soundview section of the Bronx, Uber pickups rose to 6,132 a week in August, compared to 1,189 last year. And in the Flatlands neighbourhood of Brooklyn, weekly pickups rose from 3,598 trips last year to 13,380 this year, the Times reported.

But the increase was most pronounced in Queens. Swaths of the borough are disconnected from the subway system, and neighborhoods like South Jamaica, Bayside and Glendale saw big increases in Uber ridership. Weekly pickups in St. Albans jumped from 1,870 last year to 6,370 this year.

Uber’s competitors have also expanded outside Manhattan. Just over half of Lyft’s pickups are outside Manhattan — and that doesn’t include pickups from the bustling airports JFK and LaGuardia. Another ride-hailing app, Via, is now operating in Brooklyn and Queens after its start in Manhattan. 

Riders told the Times that it was ultimately about speed, reliability and cost, with Uber rides usually priced at less than $10.

Ride-hailing apps have hurt green taxis and livery services, which have seen their share of rides drop. Green taxis, which started operating in Upper Manhattan and the outer boroughs in 2013, provided an average of 29,503 daily rides in July, according to the Times. The year before, they were delivering 42,979 rides. 

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