As Uber and Lyft fares surge, NYC taxis are becoming popular again

As Uber and Lyft fares surge, NYC taxis are becoming popular again
New York City cabs hailed through Curb saw a 152% increase between April and July 2021. Curb
  • Taxi cabs hailed through Curb saw a whopping 152% increase between April and July in NYC.
  • Average ride prices for taxis dropped in NYC, while fares for Uber and Lyft have increased.
  • Curb vice president Jason Gross said better tech is helping taxis catch up to gig economy companies.

New York City taxis are coming to dethrone Uber and Lyft from e-hailing dominance.

Cabs hailed through Curb, a mobile app hailing cabs and paying fares, saw a whopping 152% increase between April and July 2021 in NYC, and monthly average downloads off the app are up 70% this year compared to 2018, according to Curb data reviewed by Insider.

The number of people booking taxis through the app is growing at a faster rate than those booking Ubers and Lyfts, according to data from Superfly Insights. Curb roughly doubled its user numbers between the first and second quarters of 2021, while Uber and Lyft only increased by about one-third.

As Uber and Lyft fares surge, NYC taxis are becoming popular again
Taxi rides are rising faster than Uber and Lyft rides, according to data from Superfly, which analyzes anonymous spending data. Superfly

Curb's recent popularity could stem from surging prices for Uber and Lyft. The average ride price for an Uber or Lyft increased to $27 from $22 between January to June of this year, according to data from Superfly.

Curb, meanwhile, has seen average ride prices between January and June drop to $13.63 in 2021 from $16.46 in 2020 and $16.89 in 2019. Unlike the apps, NYC taxis are beholden to a meter, which charges $2.50 plus 50 cents per half mile - and doesn't have any fancy algorithms to increase the price according to demand.


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Uber and Lyft reported rising fares amid a struggle to find drivers. More than half of Lyft and Uber drivers stopped driving during the COVID-19 pandemic, per an analysis by Insider's Tom Dotan, and the number of drivers across the country in March 2021 was 35% lower than in January 2021.

Jason Gross, vice president and head of mobile at Curb, said hailing a taxi through a phone is oftentimes faster than finding one on the street. The company has implemented changes to improve its ride-hailing service and ramped up marketing for the platform over the last year, he said.

Because of cabs' lower prices, Gross said the platform also benefited from its inclusion in Transit, a New York City transportation app that compares prices between ride-hailing, taxis, and other forms of transportation.

As Uber and Lyft fares surge, NYC taxis are becoming popular again
The Curb app lets customers and drivers see the price and earnings for the trip when booking a ride. Curb

"I feel like [gig economy companies] haven't succeeded in driving the entire industry out of business," Gross told Insider regarding the taxi industry. "A lot of people said these gig economy companies transformed the industry through the use of technology, but what they really did is they created an unrealistic market."


Gross added hailing a taxi offers customers benefits they can't get from Lyft or Uber, other than slightly lower fares.

Curb also allows drivers to see the amount of money they will earn from a trip upfront. Lyft does not begin calculating driver earnings until one minute after arriving at a destination, and Uber calculates earnings on a weekly cycle.

Gross said taxi drivers have thanked Curb for allowing them to win back business from Lyft, Uber, and other competitors.

"In general, I feel the perception is we're a more trustworthy company to deal with because we're not rapidly changing and gamifying what they earn or don't earn from minute-to-minute or day-to-day," Gross said.