While the cooperation is similar to an agreement Uber penned with taxi companies in New York City, it is a noteworthy shift from years of ferocious battling between the two transportation groups. Uber, which is headquartered in San Francisco, was once sued by a local taxi company in federal court for rapacious pricing schemes. Some taxi drivers have expressed concern that the partnership would mean lower earnings and make it harder for taxi riders to afford a drive. Uber and other companies that rely on gig workers (i.e. Lyft and DoorDash) supported California’s Proposition 22. The bill gave the workers limited benefits but also made it impossible for them to be considered full employees of these companies. The measure passed in 2020, even though most voters opposed it; a judge dismissed it in 2021. This partnership expands Uber’s driver pool substantially. The app’s driver base shrunk rapidly during the height of the pandemic, and many drivers voiced discontent with their low earnings. Rising gas prices have also pushed many drivers away. According to the Municipal Transportation Agency, taxi drivers will benefit too, by leveraging Uber’s ridership toward the city’s taxis.
The agreement, part of Uber’s long-term strategy to increase taxi representation on its app, will allow Uber passengers in San Francisco to hail a cab virtually. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s board of directors still has to approve the pilot, and Jeffrey Tumlin, the city’s director of transportation needs to authorize it, but the partnership is slated to begin as early as May 2022.