Facts and Figures on New York’s Yellow Cabs vs. Uber Cars

March 19, 2015 Updated: March 19, 2015

NEW YORK—New York’s 13,587 yellow cabs are in competition with smartphone-driven newcomers on city streets, especially the 14,088 registered Uber cars that now outnumber cabs. Here’s a look at how the basic operations of the two compare.

Yellow Cabs

  • Hailed on the street by customers looking for an “on” light on the vehicle rooftop, meaning it’s available. One of the most common scenes on New York streets are people waving their hands in the air, often shouting “Taxi!”
  • Fares are set by the Taxi and Limousine Commission, at an initial fee of $2.50 plus 50 cents per 1/5 mile, or 50 cents per minute in slow traffic or when the vehicle is stopped.
  • Taxis operate under a medallion that now costs as much as $800,000. Most drivers do not own the medallion or the car; they must lease the medallion at a cost of up to about $140 per 12-hour shift, plus fuel.


  • Cars are hailed with a smartphone linked to the Uber driver, using an app that’s set up ahead of time with a credit card. The car nearest to a customer responds, with location automatically designated through the app.
  • Basic charge is $3 plus 40 cents a minute, or $2.15 per mile, but larger or fancier cars cost more. Uber fares can skyrocket at market rates based on customer demand during rush hours, bad weather, or holidays; customers are warned if they’re riding at a “surge pricing” time.
  • Most Uber drivers own their vehicles, but others are given use of a new car at special financing rates, regardless of credit history.