EconHack @ Pace University

Uber Vs. NYC Taxi


Over the past year, there has been a rise in protests from medallion owners and taxi drivers. NYC legislatures are facing mounting pressures and need your help. Come up with a novel policy that will tackle at least two concerns:

  1. Relieve loan-indebted taxi drivers efficiently
  2. Improve public safety (traffic incidents, congestion)
  3. Improve accessibility (location and disability)


Use data to back up your policy advice. Be sure to cite any claims that you make with reputable sources.

If you have general questions, post them on the discord server:

Each group will have their own text channel in the discord server so that you can easily communicate with one another.


NYC regulates how many taxis there are by implementing Taxi Medallions, which is the right to operate a taxi. This was done to decrease congestion in the city and decrease smog. NYC sells Medallions through an auction, and as a consequence the price fluctuates based on the demand, while supply is fixed (determined by the city)

Starting in 2011, Uber started operating in NYC as a ride-hail app. With cheaper taxi prices, they started heavily competing with yellow taxis and livery drivers, but did not adhere to the requirement of taxi drivers to have a medallion. Other ride-hail apps such as Lyft (2014) and Via (2015) entered NYC’s taxi industry soon after.

The peak of medallion pricing reached around $1 million dollars in 2014 and then substantially decrease, as you can see in the below graph.

Many drivers and corporations would take out loans to purchase a medallion. Drivers or companies who took out loans during the sharp increase and peak of medallion pricing were particularly vulnerable as the price of taxi fares felt competitive pressure resulting in a decrease in fare prices and demand in yellow cab taxis. As a result, many drivers could not meet their loan obligations.

In addition, without the number of taxis regulated, a surge of ride-hail taxis flooded the streets contributing to increased congestion and traffic incidents. New drivers who are unaware of NYC traffic patterns or have proper training when picking and dropping off customers could contribute to increased risk for pedestrians, bicyclists, and an overall increase in traffic.

Ride hail apps has increased the number of for-hire cars on the road which resulted in increased accessibility of these services (particularly in neighborhoods that were previously underserved). However, ride-hail apps have increasingly limited service areas with the advent of local law 150. In addition, accessibility for individuals with physical disabilities remains challenging as many for-hire cars are not ADA accessible and a limited number of Taxis are properly equipped.

A number of local laws have been created to combat the negative externalities with the rise of ride-hail apps, including Local Law 147 and 150, and the Medallion Relief Program. However, there remains complications in execution and unintended negative effects of these policies. Your policy must improve outcomes, reduce negative externalities, and/or incorporate improved ways to enforce intended outcomes of these laws.


NYC commission on impact of ride-hail on traffic report done by uber:


Use any relevant data that you find, it does not have to be identified below, but here are some starting points.

Medallion drivers data:

For hire drivers:

Street Hail Livery Drivers:

Traffic Incidents:

Traffic Counts:

Traffic Speed:

High volume taxi trips:

Yellow taxi trips:

TLC trip record:

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