By Gina Martinez
Uber ridership has nearly doubled in Queens.
The transportation app, which allows riders to order a car with just the touch of a button, has seen significant growth in the borough, especially in transportation deserts like Bayside and Jamaica.
According to Uber’s NY general manager, Sarfraz Maredia, weekly pickups in St. Albans alone rose from 1,870 in 2016 to 6,370 in 2017. Yellow cabs have historically not branched out of Manhattan and Uber has surpassed New York yellow cabs, with an average of 289,000 rides a day compared to 277,000 taxi cab rides.
Areas removed from mainstream public transit like South Jamaica, Laurelton, Springfield Garden, Rosedale, Bayside and Glendale have seen a large increase in ridership as well. Maredia said he believes the increase is due in part to reliability and affordability. Yellow cabs traditionally have not catered to the outerboroughs and suburbs where there is high demand for rides with features like Uberpool, which allows customers to share a car with other passengers for a decreased price, Uber is appealing to these once ignored passengers in areas in Queens where taxis are usually not willing to go.
“Depending on where you live, there is a good chance that the area has historically been ignored by taxis” he said.
Half of Uber’s trips in New York now start outside of Manhattan, while more than 90 percent of the rides in traditional taxis start in Manhattan, according to Maredia.
Another factor she believes has led to the increase in ridership is the “first mile, last mile” complimentary rides Uber offers to public transportation. For people who live in areas with no reliable access to subways or buses, they can use cheaper options like Uberx or Uberpool and get access to rides on average in just five minutes.According to Uber, one in four trips take place within a quarter-mile of a transit station, passengers are taking a short Uber rides to public transportation in order to shorten their commute.
“It’s reliable using Uber on a daily basis, especially in places where people might not have regular access to transportation and on weekends if plans involve alcohol,” Maredia said. “At Uber we’re really focused on investing on reliability and affordable rides. That hasn’t always been the case in Queens. Now people know they can get an affordable ride in five minutes or less.”
Uber has also done a “neighborhood love” promotion where free rides were given out to new customers as well as $5 Uber pool rides. The company has opened a “Greenlight Hub” in Long Island City, where prospective drivers can get information about obtaining a license, finding eligible vehicles and then begin working for Uber. Overall Maredia said the company has just made its presence known and felt in the outerboroughs through marketing and awareness.
As of August, Maredia said weekly ridership in Jamaica has grown by 175 percent, 150 percent in Laurelton and Rosedale, and 100 percent in Glendale and Springfield Garden.
Maredia said the increase is a result of a concerted effort to expand services in the city.
“Some of what we’ve focused on is making Uber reliable and available wherever people live,” he said. “We are not surprised by this consistent growth. This has been a concerted effort and we want to continue to get feedback from passengers in these areas and be stronger and more reliable. We’ve seen quite the growth in the outerboroughs. Obviously we’ve been operating in Queens for five-plus years but as we’ve continued to focus on Queens the result has been a strong year.”
(correction: ridership in Glendale rose by 100 percent)
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart