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Jul 15, 2019

Uber, Lyft ride totals slow in NYC as fares increase

Uber CEO Says We're at Cusp of a Transportation Revolution


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Rising prices among New York City’s major ride-hailing apps may be deterring the most price-cautious passengers.

Uber Technologies, Inc. completed 15,876,033 trips in May in NYC -- that’s down 8 per cent from March, according to a Bloomberg News analysis of data from the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission. At the same time, Lyft Inc. made 4,681,802 trips, which is 17,000 fewer than its peak in March. The slowdown comes nearly six months after city officials passed the nation’s first minimum wage rule for drivers of the companies, pushing up prices for passengers as a result.

Following the wage rule, both Uber and Lyft announced that riders will see increased fares as a result. The rise in prices appears to be affecting the company’s most price-sensitive consumers. For Uber, the impact of increased fares has been most visible in the growth of pool trips -- the most affordable trip option -- where one shares a vehicle with other riders, according to an Uber spokesperson.

During a May earnings call, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi acknowledged the price hikes affect trip numbers but said the business remains resilient.

“We think the environment can get better, but New York continues to grow for us and continues to grow at a healthy pace on a dollar volume standpoint,” he said.

Local and state regulators in New York have been enforcing new rules on ride-hailing apps in an effort to curb traffic congestion. In August, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a package of bills limiting new licenses to ride-sharing drivers. And earlier this year, a new rule requiring passengers to pay congestion surcharges went into effect. In May, more than 720,000 NYC trips were conducted per day by ride-hailing firms: Juno, Lyft, Uber and Via.

Based on historical Taxi and Limousine Commission data, March is typically a robust month for ride-hailing companies and trips fall in April before recovering in May. However, this year Uber and Lyft rides didn’t fully recover in May from April’s drop. It is difficult to make a conclusion on whether the drop in rides is a blip or the start of a future slowdown for Uber and Lyft because the NYC legislation has been in effect less than a year. Still, both companies’ filings indicated actions taken by local regulators and policy makers pose a risk to their operations.