TLC regulations risk leaving lower-income New Yorkers behind

July 23 / New York City

Last year, New York City passed a sweeping set of new regulations on app-based companies like Uber. The new rules led to substantial price increases for riders in the five boroughs.

Six months into their implementation, the data indicates that the City’s regulations may have disproportionately impacted price-sensitive riders in lower-income communities. Areas where UberX is popular continue to grow at similar rates, but communities with price-sensitive riders, who often use Uber Pool, have seen significant changes.

While Uber trips overall continue to grow around 20% year-over-year in New York City, our trip growth in some of the poorest areas of New York City has slowed dramatically:

  • East New York – where the average household income is around $37,500 – saw pickup growth of 1% from June 2018 to June 2019, compared to 110% growth the year prior. 46% of trips in East New York were Pool trips, almost double the citywide average of 24%.
  • Central Harlem, which has an average household income that is $12,045 less than the City average, saw pickup growth of 8.6% from June 2018 to June 2019, compared to 68% growth the year prior. Around a third of trips in Harlem were pool trips.
  • Wakefield, Bronx, which has an average household income $7,742 less than the City average, saw pickup growth of around 9% from June 2018 to June 2019, compared to 121% growth the year prior.

In contrast, many wealthier neighborhoods – where UberX is more popular – are experiencing strong growth. Annadale in Staten Island, for example, where the average household income is around $100,000, saw growth of 47%. Belle Harbor in Queens, where the average median income is $133,665, saw trip growth of 53%.

The TLC’s own data shows that the regulations have disproportionately impacted areas outside of Manhattan:

Note: This graph represents TLC data for the entire for-hire vehicle industry and taxis, not just Uber.

While there may be more than one cause for the dramatic changes, the data suggests that the lowest-income New Yorkers may be bearing the brunt of the TLC’s regulations. The timing of this sudden shift in low-income neighborhood growth rates is troubling and requires a more thorough review by the City. Before the City rushes to implement more regulations, we hope they’ll conduct a study into the long-term impact on New York’s underserved communities.

Chad Dobbs is the Senior Manager for rides in New York City.