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The Numbers Don't Lie: Ride-Sharing Is Destroying Taxis

Scott Lucas | September 16, 2014 | Story Politics

Sometimes, a data visualization speaks louder than words. The one above is culled from MTA data on taxi cab usage in San Francisco over the last two and a half years. That decline rate you're looking at resembles one for print newspaper subscriptions or landline customers: rapidly approaching zero.

The data comes from a presentation by Kate Toran, a city bureaucrat, and clearly shows what we've all noticed anecdotally: Uber, and to a lesser extent, Lyft and Sidecar have been eating taxi companies' lunch. Back in March 2012, the monthly ridership in cabs peaked at over 1500 trips. By July of 2014, it was around 1/3 that number.

The city wants to do something about that. According to the Examiner, its already "waived dispatch renewal, color scheme renewal and driver application fees for fiscal year 2014-15, reduced some medallion-use and renewal fees and eliminated metal-plate fees."

Customers are clearly favoring new modes of transportation over old ones. So it's worth asking: Why is the city spending time and money trying to reverse that? What, exactly, is the point of saving an industry in which something called "color scheme renewal fees" are a thing, even a waived thing?

Frankfurt just lifted an injunction against Uber. The state of California finally got its act together about insurance requirements. Is it time for the city to stop pretending that being a taxi driver is, as its report says, "a sustainable career?" Because, unfortunately for cabbies, it probably isn't.

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