So Uber and the NYC government have been battling it out. I will admit to having sympathy with the government. Not because I support the taxi monopoly: reader JKR, if he would be so kind, will attest that I railed against it at somewhat annoying length as far back as the 1980s. Rather, it is because of my general fear of a “gig economy” in which social insurance is still tied to employment ... only in which the “gigs” are not counted as employment.
But I come to praise Uber, not to bury it. When I go to New York, I tend to stay either in Midwood, Brooklyn, or more-often in the beyond-the-subway reaches of Queens. LIRR service from Queens Village is usually hourly, so it usually makes more sense to go to the main LIRR station at Jamaica, where trains run at subway frequencies. Except Jamaica is several miles away. Now, the recent creation of the green taxis that do pick-up only in the boroughs means that it is easy to get a cab from Jamaica. But calling a cab to take you to Jamaica (or the airport, for that matter) has always been nearly hopeless. Half-hour waits and disappearing cars were the standard.
But then came Uber! And now, we have never waited more than ten minutes and we have only once had a cab agree to come and then cancel. (Yes, that happens with Uber in Queens. It’s still Queens. We walked down to Jamaica Avenue and caught a dollar cab instead.)
(Parenthetical comment inside a parenthesis: in Queens, the dollar cabs are fixed-route taxis. They ply a major street, picking up and letting off people along the way. They are cars, not vans, and often, but not always, painted black.)
So while not perfect, this Uber-financed study passes the smell test. The service really has improved taxi service in the outer boroughs beyond the subway, even if it costs about the same.