NYC taxi workforce down 75 percent amid COVID-19 but Uber, Lyft on upswing

The coronavirus pandemic has demolished New York City’s for-hire vehicle workforce, newly released city data shows.

The number of working drivers stood at 30,675 in June, the Taxi and Limousine Commission said Wednesday — a 75 percent drop from the 108,880 who drove for-hire vehicles in March.

For-hire trips dropped as much as 84 percent in March and April amid the depths of the outbreak, according to the TLC’s stats.

Trip have rebound some what since then — though app-based services like Lyft and Uber are recovering faster than taxis.

June saw 251,696 trips by per day for “high volume for-hire services,” a category that include app-based companies, compared to 750,000 daily trips in February, according to the TLC.

Yellow and green taxis, meanwhile, saw 20,428 trips per day in June compared to more than 200,000 in February.

The Uber drivers who remain are also earning more than their taxi counterparts: The average app-based driver took home $1,160 per week in June, $262 more than the average hack, the TLC said.

The data matches up with trends observed on New York City’s subways, where ridership has rebounded somewhat since falling by over 90 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Taxi industry analyst Bruce Schaller, a former city transportation official, said the numbers are consistent with longstanding trends.

Schaller said taxi drivers are more likely to be out because they have to make loan payments on their TLC-issued medallions.

“It’s kind of like schools. Everyone got hit, but the people suffering the worst before suffered the most here,” he said.

New York Taxi Workers Alliance Executive Director Bhairavi Desai conceded “owner-drivers” may have been more likely to keep working through the crisis.

But Desai said the pandemic was a “wake-up call” for drivers, many of whom are older and plagued by hundreds of thousands of dollars of medallion debt.


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