Uber might compensate for driver shortages by reviving an old feature. The New York Post reports Uber has lobbied the chief of New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission on the “potential” of dispatching the area’s legendary yellow taxis. The details of the lobbying weren’t revealed in the public disclosure, but the description suggested you would hail a taxi from the Uber app like you could in the company’s earlier days.
We’ve asked Uber for comment, although it declined to speak to The Post. A TLC spokesperson shied away from discussing details, saying only that the Commission “meets frequently” with licensees to explore ideas and that it was focused on relief efforts for drivers struggling with taxi medallion debt.
Yellow cab hailing might seem an unusual choice for a company that has routinely clashed with the taxi industry and is frequently blamed for gutting NYC’s cab demand. Uber would likely have to rethink its commissions to compensate taxi drivers who pay steep costs to operate in the city, and it could still face political opposition given its history.
Even so, it’s easy to see why Uber might consider offering NYC taxis. The revival would increase the chances of passengers scoring some kind of ride through the Uber app, even if there aren’t enough ridesharing drivers to go around. That could keep New Yorkers using the Uber app and increase the chances they’ll use the company’s more familiar options.