As COVID-19 cases surge across the US once again, with daily new cases crossing the country’s July peak, the taxi industry faces a major decline in ridership. Average daily taxi rides in America’s biggest taxi market, New York City, were down 80% in September 2020 as compared to February of this year. From Washington D.C. to Las Vegas, taxi companies across the country are struggling to stay afloat.
COVID’s impact on the taxi and for-hire vehicle industry is similar to its impact on retail, education and professional work — it’s accelerated existing trends. Riders have overwhelmingly shown their preference for mobile apps and more convenient options for their rides. Before COVID, the number of Uber and Lyft rides more than tripled the number of taxi rides annually. And as lockdowns were eased across the country, Uber and Lyft recovered faster than taxi companies. In New York City, their average ridership in September was over 60% of their February ridership.