Uber users in New York City got an early, unwelcome Christmas “present” Wednesday in the form of a new fee. The popular app-based ride service company emailed users about an update to its UberT service, which allows users to hail a yellow or green New York City taxi cab through the company’s app.
Until now, the Uber app facilitated customers’ access to yellow and green "outer borough" cabs; riders paid their drivers directly. Now, Uber will charge UberT users a $2 “booking fee” for using the service. They will still be responsible for paying their drivers the fare (and tip).
In its email to customers, Uber wrote, “This fee is a small charge added to uberT trips on behalf of yellow and boro taxi drivers who utilize the Uber platform. The fee will be collected through the app and billed to the card on file at the end of your ride. You will continue to pay the metered fare directly to your driver.”
The company already levies a similar surcharge in Chicago and Washington, D.C. But the language of Uber’s email implies that the new fee is being added at the behest of taxi drivers. However, there is no evidence that any entity but Uber is a recipient of the fee.
According to Motherboard, Uber says that the fee is a way to ensure it doesn’t charge taxi drivers for using Uber’s platform to get customers. “There is no fee associated with UberT for drivers, however to cover costs associated with provisioning the platform, riders are subject to a $2 booking fee that is passed through the driver to Uber,” the company said in a statement.
In its email to customers, Uber also reminded users of its UberX service, which offers “hybrids or mid-range vehicles ... with rates cheaper than an NYC taxi.” Critics argue that this move is just another way Uber is undercutting traditional cabs in the marketplace.