Lonely Planet Writer

NY taxi and Uber drivers in rally for fairer wages

New York’s Taxi Workers Alliance and Uber cabbies held a rally at City Hall this week demanding improvement in conditions and to fight back against dwindling incomes they are currently experiencing.

New York's yellow cab drivers in rally to City Hall looking for improvements in fare and conditions
New York’s yellow cab drivers in rally to City Hall looking for improvements in fare and conditions Image by serakatie / CC BY 2.0

The drivers called for a minimum fare with a further option for passengers to tip as a way of improving income. They also demanded a guaranteed number of trips for drivers who have felt the pinch following the way the app has dramatically reduced fare rates.

Uber introduction to the market has turned a full-time profession into a part-time role, according to one driver
Uber introduction to the market has turned “a full-time profession into a part-time role,” according to the director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, Bhairavi Desai. Image by Alper Çuğun / CC BY 2.0

The director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, Bhairavi Desai rejected the Uber model “that is part-timing this full-time profession.”

According to the New York Daily News, she said it was like being told overnight by your boss that from today, there would be a 15% cut in your earning power.

“It is absolutely unconscionable,” she said.

One driver, Mostafa Abdal who left Uber in January to return as a yellow cab driver, emphasised that there were now too many drivers on the road working for the app to make a living.

The 60-year-old warned there was no money to be made as the business “was going down.”

As the Uber driver numbers in the city hits the 30,000 mark, drivers say they are feeling the squeeze for lower fare trips and the increasing commission taken from each ride by Uber.

The spokesman for the Taxi and Limousine Commission Allan Fromberg said in a statement that the market forces grew more complex and impacted on drivers in a variety of ways.

However Uber says that lower fares leads to more people in back seats, resulting in less down time. Drivers could control when and where they wanted to work, which was the reason so many thousands became partners with Uber since 2012, said a representative.

The New York Taxi Workers Alliance’s Ms Desai wants authorities to listen to their economic concerns and to consider a number of bills for the industry.