Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Uber me your poor, party animals

'Cause Uber will go where no medallioned cab dares (or cares) to tread;
Take a typical case for a time when someone may want to use a for-hire vehicle. A 20-something, entry-level worker who lives in a cramped Williamsburg apartment is invited to a party at a colleague’s house in East Flatbush. Neither can afford to live particularly close to the subway, and buses are inconvenient and slow. 

The 20-year-old heads to the party in the evening, and leaves around 12:30 a.m. after a few drinks.
Without TNC companies, his options are to trek to the subway for a circuitous route home, or take the risky walk to a major street and hope he can find a cab that’s both driving by and doesn’t already have a passenger. Getting home is unreliable, and in the worse case, likely to see the person mugged.

With TNC companies, the 20-year-old can stay at the party and call an UberX directly to the house. An hour of mass transit or a risky trek across the neighborhood becomes a simple affair that rarely fails. One can reliably spend time in poorer neighborhoods without much risk to one’s time or property. Without TNC availability, attending this hypothetical party wouldn’t make sense for many people.
And the Manhattan Institute's Jared Meyer finds that that is just what has happened in NYC. In 1937 NYC had 16,900 Yellow Cab medallions, today it's down to 13,437 for a population 20% larger than Pre-War New York. With most of the service confined to more affluent, safer, neighborhoods. Or to and from airports.

Mr. Meyer found that UberX has, in just the year 2014, grown from providing 287,000 rides in January to almost one million six hundred thousand in December. While yellow cabs provided only six percent of their rides outside Manhattan, upstart Uber's rate is almost four times as high (22%). And 60% of those were from neighborhoods with below the median income for those noncore zip codes.

That is, private, greedy ride sharing Uber drivers better serve New York's poor than do licensed taxis.

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