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Uber sues NYC govt over cap on number of vehicles; India next?

Uber is suing the New York City government over its decision to put a one-year cap on the number of cabs available on its streets, reports Wired. Uber called the decision anti-competitive, overreaching and short of insight on how to deal with traffic.

It also added that the cap prevented drivers from “taking advantage of the minimum wage law” and that congestion pricing was the only “evidence-based plan to reduce traffic and fund mass transit.” Uber has used a threat-like approach any time something has gone against it (see here and here, for example) – about NYC, it said that industry constraints “will have a disproportionate impact on residents outside of Manhattan who have long been underserved by yellow taxis and mass transit.”

According to the Wired report, NYC has around 106,000 for-hire vehicles. Earlier this month, Uber competitors Lyft and Juno also sued the NYC government for implementing minimum pay for their drivers.

Also read: Uber and Lyft Made Traffic Worse in San Francisco. But It’s Complicated

Uber’s 2018 revenues and bookings

Meanwhile, Uber also posted $50 billion in total bookings for rides and food delivery in 2018, according to this Economic Times report.

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  • Revenues grew 2% to $3 billion in its Q4FY19, up 2% from Q3FY19 and 24% over 2017
  • Gross bookings in Q4FY19 were $14.2 billion, up 11% from Q3FY19
  • Annual booking figures were up 45% from 2017
  • 2018’s full year revenue was $11.3 billion, up 43% from full year 2017 revenue
  • Losses before taxes, depreciation and other expenses were $1.8 billion, lower from the $2.2 billion loss posted in 2017


  • Accounts for more than $2.5 billion in quarterly bookings (source based)
  • In Q4FY19, its losses before interest, taxes and depreciation were at $940 million, up 43% from the previous quarter and 21% from 2017

Why capping the number of cabs in India might become a reality soon

While several cities are undergoing metro construction (Pune included), the number of cabs from both ride hailing and employee transport in metros as well as Tier II and III cities has shot up. As of August 2017, Uber had completed 500 million trips in India since launch, had 5 million weekly active riders and 450,000 registered drivers. With increased congestion and mobility, the regional transport offices in these cities – where the roads are already jammed due to metro construction – may look at curbing the number of vehicles on the road as road transport hits peak.

However, in India, Uber may self-regulate (as in cap the number of cabs) before this problem reaches the RTOs. (I called it.) This is almost practical for the company since it has to maintain a rider-to-driver ratio to make money and ensure that the right amount of cabs are in supply. The more the the number of vehicles on its platform, the lower the take-home earnings of individual drivers. Drivers have already complained and protested over Ola’s and Uber’s high commission rates which reduce their take-home pay.

And like we’ve said before, Uber could always launch Uber Bus in India.

Written By

I'm a MediaNama alumna from 2015-16 (remember TinyOwl?) now back to cover e-services like food and grocery delivery, app based transport and policies, platforms and media in India.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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