SAN FRANCISCO KPIX) — In Uber’s early days, teaming up with, not against, the taxi industry seemed impossible. In 2022, that seems to be the playbook with a potential new deal in the works.
If approved by the SFMTA board next month, Uber could partner with Flywheel to put taxis on the Uber app. The details of the deal are not fully known but are worrying taxi drivers already decimated by now worthless million-dollar medallions and the pandemic.
“The fare will be Uber fares, not taxi meter fares,” said Evelyn Engel, board member of the San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance. “We all know that Uber’s own full-time drivers are struggling to make a living, so we’re concerned these fares aren’t taxi fares.”
A similar agreement was recently approved in New York between Uber and taxi companies.
“The difference between here and New York is that in New York there’s a lot more protections for drivers there and there’s less here in California, partly because of Proposition 22,” said journalist Dara Kerr of The Markup who covers the gig economy. “They see it as a way to cement low wages in stone. Taxi drivers have always had base fares, they’ve had vehicle caps, which has allowed a taxi driver to earn a living wage Along with Uber and Lyft, they’re at the whim of the company, and they’ve seen pay cuts across the board for years.
SFTWA wants to see safeguards built into this agreement if this happens, as well as greater transparency.
“It’s often presented as a choice for consumers, but their choices are getting narrower and narrower. We have uber delivery, uber ride, uber taxi, uber truck. I find it rather ironic that the word choice is used to describe this growing monopolization of all aspects of transportation,” Engel said.
KPIX5 contacted Uber and Flywheel on Tuesday but never received a response.
The final decision on this draft agreement between Uber and Flywheel will rest with the SFMTA board of directors, which could take up the issue as early as April 5.