Some Black folks are not sorry about the rapid decline of the taxi industry, in the face of strong competition from companies like Uber. Cabbies have long bypassed African-American customers to pick up White people standing nearby.
In New York City, Lyft and other ride-hail apps have put a huge dent in the income of taxi companies and drivers who own their own cabs, according to the New York Times. The newspaper highlighted one driver named Issa Isac who borrowed $335,000 in 2008 to buy a New York City taxi medallion to legally operate his own cab. With more people turning to Uber and similar services, he is now broke and cannot afford to pay back his loan.
He is not alone. Frustrated cab drivers demonstrated outside City Hall in Manhattan on Wednesday (March 28), the New York Post reported. They blamed Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration for allowing the ride-hail companies to take away business from them while ruining the livelihood of drivers.
Cabbies routinely discriminated against Black people when they faced no competition. In one case that received widespread attention, a New York administrative law judge recommended a $25,000 fine in 2015 for a racist cab driver. The cabby told a Black woman who flagged him down that he had to go off duty, but then picked up two White women standing not too far away, the Times reported.
Unfortunately, Uber and Lyft are apparently not much different. Drivers from the ride-hailing companies often discriminate against Black passengers, according to a 2016 study, based on about 1,500 cases in Seattle and Boston. The study found that people with Black-sounding names found it harder to get a ride.