SAN FRANCISCO KPIX) -- At the inception of Uber, teaming up with, not against, the taxicab industry seemed an impossibility. In 2022, that appears to be the playbook with a potential new deal in the works.
If approved by the SFMTA board next month, Uber could be teaming up with Flywheel to put cabs on the Uber app. The details of the deal are not fully known but are causing concern among taxi drivers already decimated by now worthless million dollar medallions and the pandemic.
"The fare will be at Uber rates, not at taxi meter rates," said Evelyn Engel, an executive board member of the San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance. "We all know that Uber's own full-time drivers struggle to make a living, so we are definitely concerned that these rates aren't going to be taxi rates."
A similar deal has recently been approved in New York City between Uber and taxi companies.
"The difference between here and New York is in New York there is a lot more protections for drivers there and there's less here in California, partially because of Prop. 22," said reporter Dara Kerr of The Markup who covers the gig economy. "They see this as a way for low wages to be cemented in stone. Taxi drivers have always had base fares, they've had vehicle caps, which has made it possible for a taxi driver to earn a living wage. With Uber and Lyft, they are at the whims of the company. They've seen wage cuts across the board for years."
The SFTWA wants to see safeguards built into this deal if it happens, as well as more transparency.
"This is often being framed as a choice for consumers, but their choices are becoming narrower and narrower. We have an uber delivery, an uber ride, an uber taxi, an uber truck. I find it rather ironic that the word choice is being used to describe this increasing monopolization of all aspects of transportation," said Engel.
KPIX5 reached out to Uber and Flywheel on Tuesday but never got a response.
The final decision on this proposed deal between Uber and Flywheel will be up to the SFMTA board, which could take up the issue as soon as April 5.
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