The bright yellow cabs cruising the streets of Manhattan have become an important and indelible symbol of New York. Unfortunately, as the findings of a new study by the Taxi & Limousine Research Center (TLRC) shows, this bright color has also served to blind politicians and New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to the needs of the riding public working and living in northern Manhattan and the other four boroughs (Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island) of the city.
The study (Fleet Analysis: New York City Taxi, Limousine and For Hire Vehicles) by TLRC-director George Laszlo, examined data collected by the TLC from July 21, 2014 which revealed the following complement of in-service vehicles:
|Service Type||Vehicle Count|
|Community / Livery Cars||27,933|
|Yellow (Medallion) Taxis||13,677|
While recognizing the positive contribution made by the introduction of the Green taxi fleet in the outer boroughs during the Bloomberg era, the findings also reveal the following that:
– The vast majority of commuter vans are between 7 and 12 years old;
– Sixty-six percent of paratransit vehicles are between 4 to 7 years old;
– Roughly 50% of community/livery vehicles are between 7 and 11 years old;
– One-third of the SHL Green Cab fleet is 7 years or more old.
This is in contrast to:
– Yellow Cabs where 81% are four or less years old and
– Luxury Vehicles where 65% are less than 4 years old; and
– Black Cars where 3/4 are made up of cars model year 2010 or newer.
The study also determined that about 12% of luxury vehicles and nearly half of the black car fleet have come under the control of Uber in the past 3 years.
While Uber has set up and operates several bases in New York, it does not provide traditional dispatch services. Rather, the company matches drivers with passengers using its proprietary ride hail application. As such, it has no need to incur the overhead cost of traditional dispatch methods. Furthermore, the ‘app’ is generic and multi-purpose in the sense that it can be used for any type of private car hire service whether taxi, limo, rideshare, black car or luxury.
These distinctions are true for other ride-hail apps and the key reason why the TLC must re-evaluate current regulations based on the assumption that these apps are here to stay whether provided by Uber or anyone else.
George Laszlo, Executive Director of TLRC, said that “The bleeding among and between industry segments is the key reason why the TLC can no longer afford to regulate each segment in isolation.”
When the riding public has the choice to either physically raise a hand to hail a yellow cab or tap a button on a smartphone instead, it no longer makes much difference what type of vehicle or service is providing the ride. It is an environment where the riding public will be in control.
This point is all the more important based on another study finding that the industry backlash against the “Taxi of Tomorrow” programme resulted in an increase of car sales for Toyota and a significant boycott of the Nissan NV-200 taxi. Given the rising importance of ride-hail applications in New York and around the world, the wisdom of a single-vehicle mandate must be called into question.
The study suggests and recommends that it is the new responsibility of the TLC (and its equivalents in every other jurisdiction around the world) to assure that a level playing field is created and maintained that does not unfairly favor or hinder any segment from effectively competing in the marketplace. It is also the best way to assure safe, reliable and affordable service to the riding public.
The study, carried out by TLRC, a not-for-profit organization based in New York City focused on taxi, limousine and other private transportation services around the world, collected and analyzed data as of July 21, 2014 made available by the TLC via its web site or the New York City Open-Data initiative. The data was collected, cleaned, derived and charted for each industry segment individually and then pooled to allow cross-segment analysis. The report includes 13 charts primarily focused on vehicle make, model and age. Specific recommendations are made for improving both governance and services within this vital segment of the New York City transportation infrastructure.
The complete study can be downloaded here:
• “Nearly half of the black car fleet have come under the control of Uber in the past 3 years.”