Uber, Lyft reportedly sinking San Francisco taxi business

Taxi use in the city has tumbled by 65 percent over the last year -- much of this is attributed to the growing use of ride-sharing services.

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This graph shows the average amount of trips made per taxi in San Francisco has plummeted over the last several months. San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

Ride-sharing apps, like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar, appear to have made their mark on San Francisco's taxi industry.

A new report (PDF) presented to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency by taxi officials on Tuesday says that cab use has tumbled by 65 percent in the last 15 months. In March 2012 an average San Francisco taxi gave about 1,400 rides per month; and, as of this past July, that number fell to around 500 rides, according to the report.

The central cause of this drop in taxi rides is attributed to the growing use of peer-to-peer car sharing services. While Uber and Lyft don't reveal usage data, both companies have touted their rapid expansion over the past few years. Lyft now operates in more than 60 US cities and Uber is in 35 countries and more than 100 cities.

People in all of these cities have taken to the ride-sharing apps because it's often far easier to e-hail an Uber or Lyft than to track down a taxi. However, some critics say these apps don't have the same high standards as the taxi business when it comes to insurance requirements and background checks.

In order to keep up with the times, the SFMTA is now pushing taxi drivers to accept credit cards and use taxi hailing apps like FlyWheel and Curb. According to the report, 80 percent of San Francisco cab drivers use FlyWheel and 60 percent use Curb. Apparently, the average pick-up time for a FlyWheel trip is 3.5 minutes, which is comparable with Uber and Lyft.

CNET contacted the SFMTA for comment. We'll update the story when we get more information.

[Via the San Francisco Chronicle]

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