Uber Cars Pull Ahead of Yellow Cabs in New York City

Cars operated by Uber Technologies Inc. now outnumber New York’s yellow cabs, the latest sign that its mobile phone app is changing the way city dwellers hail rides.

There are now 14,156 registered vehicles operated by the car-booking app in the city, compared with 13,587 yellow medallion cabs that are allowed on the roads at any one time, according to data from the Taxi & Limousine Commission.

Oumar Bah, who has been a yellow-cab driver in New York for about two years, said he understands the appeal of the service.

“For me, it’s not good because it eats my business,” Bah said in an interview in midtown Manhattan, on his way to Union Square. “But it’s good for others.”

Yellow cabs are still providing a vast majority of the rides at an average of 485,000 trips per day -- more than 10 times Uber’s -- because most Uber drivers don’t work full-time. The San Francisco-based startup, valued at $40 billion in a December fundraising, has been growing in popularity with users worldwide while facing mounting hostility from governments and the taxi industry. Just this past week, Uber was sued for false advertising in California, drivers were threatened by licensed taxi drivers in Amsterdam, and a German court banned UberPop, the company’s cheapest car-hailing service.

About 62 percent of Uber drivers are working on another job, full-time or part-time, according to a Benenson Strategy Group survey in December cited by the startup in a report.

Uber cars gave an average of 34,271 rides in New York in September, according to data provided by the commission.

“Yellow cab rides significantly outstrip the number of Black Car rides, including those dispatched by Uber, so the number of their affiliated vehicles in and of itself doesn’t paint a complete picture,” Meera Joshi, chair of the commission, said in an e-mailed statement. The group no longer releases the average price of its taxi medallions.

As for Bah, who hasn’t driven for Uber, he said he plans to try it. The service isn’t only appealing for customers, he said, but offers the benefits of flexibility and convenience for drivers as well.